Energy UK’s latest switching figures have revealed that 668,371 customers moved to a new suppler in April, the highest numbers ever recorded, and an increase of 34 per cent on the same month in 2018.
This brings the total number of switches in 2019 so far to more than two million, 18 per cent higher than at this point last year. The total also beats figures from March by around 6.8 per cent.
In April, 47 per cent of switches seen were from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers, whereas only 10 per cent switched in the opposite direction. This constituted a net gain for small and mid-tier suppliers of 251,964, or 38 per cent of all switches.
A further 21 per cent of switches came from consumers moving from one large supplier to another, and 22 per cent were from customers switching between small and mid-tier suppliers.
The impetus to switch could be explained by the low regard some energy suppliers are held in by customers, as detailed in a survey by Energy Switching.
With switching on the rise, in April the Energy Ombudsman reported that switching had leapfrogged customer service as the second-most frequent complaint.
However, research for the energy switch guarantee (ESG) has found that eight in ten consumers are happy with the switching process. The ESG is a voluntary industry initiative covering roughly 90 per cent of the market, who have made a collective agreement to ensure the switching process is quick, simple, and safe for consumers.
Lawrence Slade, Energy UK’s chief executive, said: “It is very positive to see that record numbers of customers continue to move to a new supplier in search of a better deal, and we must remember Ofgem’s figures also show many more each month move to a better deal with their current supplier.
“So, I would encourage everyone to get in touch with their supplier, or have a look online, to see if there is a better deal for them, whether that is on price or the type of tariff you are looking for.
“And, at a time when we are facing a climate challenge on a global scale, it is important for all of us to look at our energy use and ensure our homes are energy efficient. This is the best way to keep your energy bill down while also reducing your carbon footprint so you can help save money and the planet.”
Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market, added: “Over half a million switches in April is an undeniable sign that people are not prepared to stand for the hefty increase to their annual energy bill that successive supplier price hikes have delivered.
“Energy providers have long relied on customer inertia so it is encouraging that, despite the energy price cap failing to protect many customers from rising costs, not all households have rested on their laurels. More often than not it pays to shop around for a more competitively priced fixed rate tariff. For the many millions of households still languishing on standard variable and default tariffs, now is certainly the time to take a look around to find a better deal.”
The start of April saw Ofgem’s revised price cap come into effect, raising the cap level by £117 to £1,254.