Ofgem confirms time to switch energy supplier set to be cut in half

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The time it takes homeowners to switch energy suppliers is set to be slashed in half Ofgem has confirmed.

The energy regulator has struck a deal with the energy industry to ensure from December 31, 2014 the switching time will drop to only three days, with a 14 day cooling off period. By making such a move, it is hoped households will find it easier to switch supplier and save money.

Ofgem chief executive, Dermot Nolan, said: "Consumers can change their bank in seven days, their mobile phone in just a couple, but have to wait significantly longer to switch their energy supplier.

"We know that consumers want a reliable and efficient switching process, and that concerns about it going wrong can put them off shopping around for a better deal.

"So following the steps we have taken to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are now leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching."

At present, homeowners looking to switch energy supplier would typically have to wait for five weeks, with a two-week cooling down period should a customer change their mind.

Research from Ofgem conducted in April showed a staggering two-thirds of UK energy customers had never switched energy provider, despite the fact such a move could save them as much as £200.

A next day switching system is Ofgem's overall target, with the regulator looking to impose such a system by 2018 at the latest. However, the energy regulator has warned such a change will only come about after old IT systems are upgraded.

A spokesman for the representative of the UK energy firms, Energy UK, said: "Just pop in your postcode, pop in your how much gas and electricity you use - which is on every bill, and Bob's your uncle. It is as simple as that.

"Energy UK has been working for some time on speeding things up with the organisations that operate the gas and electricity switching hubs and it is great that Ofgem and others are all on board.

"This is a collaborative programme with lots of participants involved and there are now 24 suppliers of energy, so real choice and competition for the customer."

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