A record number of households switched suppliers in the retail energy market last month, showing it has never been more competitive, as the Government accelerates its plans to cap prices.
The legislation to support a price intervention across the market came under a second parliamentary reading last week ahead of fresh figures which show a record amount of energy switching.
Energy UK revealed that over 660,000 customers switched electricity supplier last month. The trade group said this represented “a huge” 60pc increase from February last year.
The highest ever number of switches in a single month means that in this year alone over a million customers have opted for a new deal.
Ministers are pushing through the cap to fix the “broken market” after persistent claims that a lack of consumer engagement has created a two-tier market in which millions are charged above the odds.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “The energy market has never been so competitive and it’s great to see record numbers of consumers engaging in the market to get a better deal.”
It follows an annual switching record of 5.5m last year. A deluge of new, small suppliers into the market has ushered in a greater choice of supplier, and rock bottom prices.
The number of customers switching to small and mid-tier suppliers reached 130,000 last month, or a fifth of the total switches.
Claire Perry, the energy minister, conceded that the figures showed the market was competitive but said the cap was still necessary.
“With around 60 companies to choose from, consumers can make big savings if they shop around,” she said.
“But we know there are still around 11m households on the most expensive energy tariffs. That’s why the Government is taking action to bring in measures to cap these default tariffs and protect people from high energy bills by next winter,” she added.
Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, said that switching is becoming less difficult too.
“In 2016 we received 3,066 complaints about switching, down by 36pc from 2015. This indicates that companies are getting better at managing transfers and any complaints related to them, which is good news for consumers,” he said.
As a result consumer confidence in switching is also high, according to industry data, with 9 in 10 customers happy with the process according to the Energy Switch Guarantee (ESG), a voluntary industry initiative.