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House of Commons Hansard
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12 May 2016
Volume 609
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6. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that energy consumers are on the best value energy tariff. [904993]

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The most effective way for consumers to ensure that they are on the best value tariff is by engaging with the energy market and switching supplier. I encourage all Members to urge their constituents to engage with the market and make use of the readily available Ofgem-approved price comparison websites. Meanwhile, we will continue to make it easier for consumers to switch, and we are working with Ofgem and the industry to move to reliable next-day switching by 2018.

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High Peak is probably one of the coldest constituencies in England in the winter, so our household energy costs are probably disproportionately high compared with those in many other areas of the country. Has the Secretary of State made any assessment already of the trends of people changing suppliers and whether they are actually changing suppliers to keep those costs down?

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I can reassure my hon. Friend that switching was at a four-year high in 2015, with 6.1 million electricity and gas switches across Great Britain—roughly a 15% increase on 2014. I am aware that some people are unable or unwilling to switch, which is why we have the big energy saving network programme. This year, that programme gave £10,000 of funding to two champions in High Peak who reached more than 350 customers directly, and trained 111 front-line staff. Over the year, more than 1,900 vulnerable customers were supported. It is important to reach all consumers.

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Only last week, the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) owned up to having brought a hedgehog into the Chamber some years ago—I am pleased to say that it was not during my tenure of the Chair. With all the reference to price comparison websites, I am glad that no one has thought it necessary to bring a meerkat into the Chamber.