The number of electricity customers switching supplier so far in 2017 has surpassed the total for 2014, according to new data released by Energy UK.
Nearly half a million (444,653) customers switched their supplier in August 2017, taking the total for the year to date nearly three and a half million. Energy UK said that this figure was more than that for the whole of 2014 (3.4 million).
The figure for August, which came hot on the heels of Centrica’s announcement of a big hike in its standard variable tariff rate, also showed a 30 per cent increase from the same month last year when 342,459 customers switched suppliers.
And nearly a quarter of all switches were from small and mid-tier suppliers from the larger suppliers. While 162,382 customers switches from larger to small and medium sized electricity suppliers, 50,450 moved in the opposite direction. This meant a balance of 111,932 customers switching from larger to small and mid- tier suppliers.
Switching from larger to small and mid-tier companies made up the biggest proportion (37 per cent) of total movements between supplier groups. Just over a third of movements (36 per cent) were between larger suppliers.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK said that the new figures showed progress was being made to encourage customers to switch suppliers rather than stay on more expensive standard variable tariffs.
He said: “The UK energy industry is changing, and at a rapid pace. To see switching increase by more than a third – an increase of more than 100,000 customers on the same time last year, shows that progress is being made. This is on top of many more customers moving to better deals with their own supplier, a sign of the continued efforts of suppliers to engage with their customers to ensure a fair deal for all.
“There are a record number of companies to choose from, and deals which could save you hundreds of pounds so our advice to consumers is check your deal today – you could save in no time at all.”
Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, said: “This August, Britain’s biggest energy supplier – British Gas – hiked its prices after the rest of the big six energy companies raised theirs earlier this year.
“The sheer number of people who switched in August is clear evidence that customers are not taking price hikes lying down. Instead they are voting with their feet and saving money on their energy bill. These figures prove that competition is delivering as more and more people take advantage of the cheap deals and greater choice available. But to help more bill payers save money the industry should be committing to targets to get consumers off poor value standard variable tariffs.
The new figures from Energy UK follow the publication of data last week by the regulator Ofgem, revealing that the numbers of customers on SVTs has fallen by nearly one million in the last six months.