More than 600,000 customers switched their electricity supplier over the course of March, according to the latest figures from Energy UK.

The total of 625,503 switches represented a 29 per cent increase of the figure from March 2018, and a 36 per cent increase from the 452,977 switches seen in February this year.

This brings 2019’s total up to 1,451,145, a 12 per cent increase from the figure at this time last year.

The greatest movement was seen from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers, with 265,562 customers making this switch. This was followed by 153,475 people switching from one small or mid-tier supplier to another, then 130,683 instances of customers of large suppliers moving over to another large supplier.

The smallest group was those who switched from a low or mid-tier supplier to a large one, numbering 65,783 for the month.

This means that small to mid-tier suppliers made a net gain of 199,779 switches in March – about 32 per cent of all switches.

Lawrence Slade, Energy UK’s chief executive, said: “It’s very positive to see increasing numbers of customers continuing to switch and engaging in the market to make sure they’re on the best deal for them – and of course, this number doesn’t include those customers who choose to move to a new tariff with their current supplier, which would add many more thousands of households.

“It’s most likely that this month’s increase is in response to the recent price cap rise announced by Ofgem, showing how the price of electricity and gas is affected by variable costs – the vast majority of which are out of suppliers’ direct control. While we hope engagement levels remain high, we can only really assess the cap’s effect on switching over a longer period of time when it might fall as well as increase.

“The one way to ensure lasting savings for all customers – whatever happens to unavoidable costs and the resulting effect on bills – is to make all our homes and businesses energy efficient and for customers to take advantage of new smart tariffs which will help save more money immediately.”

Uswitch energy expert, Sarah Broomfield, commented: “Following a wave of supplier price rises throughout February in response to the new price cap level, it is little wonder that many customers have responded by seeking out cheaper deals elsewhere. 600,000 households voted with their feet, an enormous increase for electricity switching in March compared to previous years. It’s hugely encouraging to see households taking control of their bills and saving over £300 a year compared to the price cap in some cases.

Ofgem’s price cap increase, announced in February, came into effect on 1 April, seeing a rise to £1,254 for the average customer.

The Energy Ombudsman has today (18 April) revealed that switching has leapfrogged customer service as the second most frequent complaint made to it, sitting behind only billing.