Commenting on Ofgem's decision to call for a competition inquiry into the energy market, including the big six energy suppliers' stranglehold, Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesperson at Gocompare.com, said:
"We welcome this decision by the regulator to refer the energy market for closer scrutiny by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Consumer confidence in the system has hit rock-bottom, putting millions of people off from engaging with the market and their energy bills.
"The 'big six' moniker is well earned - together the UK's biggest energy companies supply over 94% of all household gas and electricity - and with confidence in the energy market at such a low ebb, any move to increase transparency is welcome. While the energy giants' profits may be difficult to stomach at a time when people's bills are at a record high, the launch of a formal inquiry will at least help to either expose malpractice or prove that the market is, in fact, working.
"This is particularly important as mistrust of the energy market doesn't just affect the big players, to whom most of the ire is directed. In a recent survey of householders who are currently customers of the big six, almost one in five (17%) said they wouldn't consider switching to smaller supplier, with 22% saying this was because 'all energy companies are the same'. With this general distrust of all energy companies, it's not surprising that 12% of people admitted to having never switched providers.*
"There are lots of smaller energy suppliers for people to choose from, yet more and effective competition in the energy market can only be a good thing for consumers, increasing choice and encouraging suppliers to offer attractive rates for gas and electricity.
"The CMA's investigation is expected to take another 18 months, so while the regulator continues to apply its measures to make energy bills less complex and improve energy companies' processes, householders also need to take charge of their outgoings and engage with the energy buying process. Go to a comparison site armed with your latest bill and compare the tariffs available to find the best one for your energy consumption, location and circumstances. Your gas and electricity comes through the same wires and pipes no matter who you buy it from, so make sure you're not paying over the odds unnecessarily. And with 51% of people who switch both gas and electricity through Gocompare.com saving £175.07** or more, that's time well spent."
Notes to editors:
* Based on research commissioned by Gocompare.com and carried out by Consumer Intelligence on 13 and 14 December 2013 with 2,016 UK adults who are customers of the 'big six' energy suppliers (British Gas, ScottishPower, E.ON, npower, EDF, and SSE).
** Based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx powered Gocompare.com platforms during the 1st August - 31st October 2013. At least 51% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Gocompare.com saved £175.07 or more