Gas and electricity Updated:
Energy secretary Ed Davey has given energy consumers a much-needed treat this Halloween, by announcing plans to ensure they can switch suppliers in as little as 24 hours.
He's branded the current timescale, where switching can take more than five weeks, as "completely ludicrous" and has vowed to put pressure on the big six firms to speed up the process.
He told BBC Breakfast that he's already in consultation with a leading independent supplier, First Utility, but has stressed that he needs to get the other major players on board. He's due to meet with three of the big six next month who are willing to work with him.
Both he and smaller energy companies have accused the big six of ripping off bill-payers, and he's also accused them of anti-competitive practices as they currently try to make it difficult for consumers to switch suppliers.
Mr Davey said: "The big six basically have been trying to prevent people from switching, make it more difficult for them to switch. That is not acceptable.
"Some of them clearly are making too much on some of their consumers because that's why they can make such big savings if they switch."
More details are due to be unveiled later today after he's delivered his annual energy statement to the House of Commons, during which he's also expected to enforce an annual review of energy competition and prices to be led by industry regulator Ofgem.
Mark Todd, director of independent comparison site energyhelpine, is encouraged by the news:
"It is about time that the Government step up and take real responsibility for the energy market. Reducing the time it takes to switch from five weeks to just a day will mean customers can start saving quicker. This is particularly important at a time of price rises [as] the British public has been in the firing line with increasing energy bills year after year.
"There needs to be a greater transparency in the energy market in order for consumers to get the cheapest deals that are out there. Annual reviews on competition and standards should help … A transparent and fair energy market is a prerequisite to public trust being restored in the industry."
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