With winter now upon us, concerns about energy bills naturally start to arise. This makes it even more important that all households are on the best energy deal for them – and now there are more companies than ever competing to provide the best deal.
We have been working hard with Ofgem to make it easier for companies to enter the energy market and grow and I am happy to say that this work is paying off.
We have 19 independent companies supplying households in Great Britain competing against the large established players, compared to seven back in 2010. Households have more choice than ever before and they are choosing in record numbers to move to independent suppliers.
Independent suppliers bring greater choice and diversity to the market. Some specialise in serving customers that are not served at all by some of the larger companies, such as customers seeking electricity purchased solely from renewable sources. Others specialise in serving a particular customer profile – for instance customers on pre-payment meters, or customers that have lower than average consumption. And some are exploring community energy initiatives with other partners to deliver better deals to consumers.
Independent suppliers are driving innovation, improving customer service and competing against the largest suppliers on price, which has in turn prompted a reaction from some of the larger suppliers. This can only be good for consumers.
But of course challenges remain and smaller suppliers, in particular, have told us they find it difficult to keep track of publications and consultations and that it is not always immediately apparent whether a publication is relevant to them. This is because they have fewer resources than the larger companies which are used to dealing with Government.
That is why we have developed a web page on GOV.UK to signpost Government publications and events that are relevant to independent suppliers. This is just one of a package of measures to improve the way the Department interacts with independent suppliers and to ensure that their voices are heard when the Department is considering new initiatives that may affect them.
I am absolutely determined to do all that I can to continue supporting the contribution of the independent suppliers to our increasingly competitive and dynamic market, because it is only rigorous competition that will drive innovation, improve customer service and deliver better offers to consumers.