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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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UK Government Energy Advice Failing

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Calls by the UK Government for energy customers to switch energy suppliers for better deals are not working an SNP MP warned after a parliamentary question revealed that the number of gas and electricity customers moving suppliers has actually fallen over recent years.

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said that, if the UK government was serious about reducing domestic energy bills they needed to look at how prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up, but fall slowly, if at all, when the wholesale price falls.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“Encouraging customers to switch between energy suppliers has been the UK Governments answer to tackling the problems of sky high bills, but it is clear from these figures that this strategy is not working.

“The sad fact is that most people who are already on a direct debit payment are unlikely to make a significant saving by switching and, indeed, research has shown that many of those who switch have actually ended up on a worse deal.

“Over the summer we saw the big six energy suppliers go through a follow my lead of rising energy prices. How is the average consumer supposed to know what is a good deal without knowing when the next company is going to hike prices?

“Prices are rising much faster even than the ability to cut costs by reducing consumption.

“If the UK government were serious about the reduction in energy bills they need to look at how prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up, but fall slowly, if at all, when the wholesale price falls.”


Dr Whiteford’s parliamentary question is detailed below:

Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he has made an estimate of the number of energy customers who switched suppliers (a) once and (b) twice or more in each of the last five years. [82159]

Charles Hendry: The following table shows the number of customers who have switched from one supplier to another during the last five years.

        Electricity     Gas
2006    4.836           3.912
2007    5.157           3.981
2008    5.427           4.158
2009    5.022           3.825
2010    4.746           3.558
                   (millions)

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