Consumers across the energy and other regulated sectors should have easy access to the data they need to find the best deal and they should also be able to easily and securely share this data with price comparison websites and other third party intermediaries, according to the government in its consultation response and and action plan on switching suppliers in regulated industries, published today.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said that “the energy sector was a prevalent source of issues” on data sharing in the consultation responses. Respondents said energy measurements were difficult to understand and estimated billings and inconsistent billing periods made it difficult to compare tariffs. BIS noted: “Although consumers have access to their annual usage data on their bills and annual statements, it was apparent from these responses that not all are aware of this.”
The consultation response came a day after BIS published a new call for evidence, Improving the consumer landscape and quicker switching, seeking views on how how proposals to speed up switching across all major services could be implemented. The government said all regulated industries should enable 7 day switching. Currently, energy customers are able to switch within 21 days, currently an up to 21 day GPL process. Ofgem and the industry are working on introducing reliable next day switching by the end of 2018 through Ofgem’s switching programme. The first meeting of its Switching Programme Delivery Group was in May.
The call for evidence is seeking views on:
- Whether there are any problems with the current provision of advice, advocacy and dispute resolution in the energy, communications, water and transport sectors, and, if so, how it could be improved.
- Whether data on consumer complaints in these sectors can be made easier to access.
- Whether more can be done to get consumers their money back in these sectors when they have suffered detriment.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: ”I want to give consumers more power over switching providers for the services they rely on to make sure they are getting the best deals. The government is committed to creating a system that works for consumers and makes markets more competitive. At the moment the time it takes to switch depends on which service you are switching. I want to hear what consumers and businesses think of making switching quicker and more consistent across all markets.”
Read the full reports:
Improving the consumer landscape and quicker switching: call for evidence (consultation closes 23 June)