It's the time of year when the heating gets turned up and many of us re-evaluate our phone and broadband packages to keep us entertained over the festive period, but this could all take its toll on your utility bills. Happily, the Government has recently announced initiatives to boost competition between suppliers and reduce household bills in the process, but will you benefit?
The Government says that it's "taking steps to strengthen competitive pressures to help deliver lower prices", having announced measures in the latest Autumn Statement to reduce car insurance and energy prices. This could result in savings of up to £80 per year, but that's not all – many households could also save up to £390 a year by switching their energy supplier, current account and mobile tariff, all of which the Government is hoping to make easier, while additional measures to make broadband pricing more transparent could help consumers save even more.
The measures include a reduction in the projected cost of green policies on the average annual household energy bill, which will fall by £30 from 2017, and there are also plans to make switching supplier quicker and easier (through the launch of a switch guarantee, similar to that seen in the banking sector, from early next year) to encourage consumers to find a better tariff. The Government is also working with Ofcom to make switching easier in communications markets, too, and is looking at ways to ensure that pricing in broadband adverts is transparent and not misleading.
These are just some of the measures the Government is working on, and there are set to be similar interventions in the water and banking sectors, too, with the ultimate aim being to make sure that consumers aren't paying too much for essential services. The measures are widely welcomed, particularly by Citizens Advice, whose research earlier this year found that price promises made by broadband providers are often misleading and can cost customers up to six times more than the adverts imply.
"Helping consumers get a better deal is vital to the public and the economy," said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy. "People can find themselves trapped in expensive contracts, unable to switch suppliers and paying over the odds for essential services, [and] we have long argued that broadband providers have been cashing in on false promises.
"At the moment it is impossible for customers to compare prices and choose the best deal for them. It is high time we had action on this broken market, [so] it is encouraging that the Government has signalled its ambition to help reduce bills and boost competition."
The proposed measures can only mean good things for consumers, but it'll take a while for everything to bed down. In the meantime, you still want to make sure you get the best price for your utility bills (and all household bills, for that matter), which is why it's so important to be proactive and compare the options thoroughly. Whether you want to cut your energy bills, get a better broadband deal or save money on your insurance policies, head to our comparison tools to see how much you could save.
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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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