Time to look beyond big six energy companies – Jo

Speaking in Parliament, Jo Swinson MP has asked the Government to help people get a good deal by looking beyond the ‘big six’ energy companies.

In the House of Commons last week, Jo asked Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne what was being done to make customers aware of alternative energy providers to the six dominating companies – British Gas, npower, E.ON, EDF, Scottish and Southern, and Scottish Power.

The Secretary of State replied that encouraging people to look at alternatives was key to driving greater competition and bringing new entrants into the market, as well as helping people make substantial savings.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“Many new utility companies such as non-profit provider Ebico offer a fairer deal for households, but the big six’s energy market domination continues to overshadow these smaller companies.

“I am pleased that the Climate Change and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne wants to encourage people to examine these potentially money-saving alternatives, and energy regulator Ofgem recently pledged to break the big six’s hold on the market. These moves could well lead to a better deal for East Dunbartonshire residents by simplifying their bills, as well as creating healthier competition in the energy market by driving new business.”

The full text of Jo’s question and the Secretary of State’s answer is below:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD):The big six seem very quick to put prices up, but they act much more slowly to reduce their prices when wholesale prices fall. There are alternatives out there, such as the social enterprise Ebico, which supplies energy on a not-for-profit basis. What more can the Secretary of State do to make customers aware that they do not need to stick with the big six if they are being ripped off?

Chris Huhne: The key is to encourage people to act. At the moment 99% of people are with the big six, and they are very unlikely to look at alternatives and to switch. If we can get people to look more comprehensively on a regular basis at alternatives, substantial savings can be made, and we can drive greater competition, we can simplify bills, we can bring more new entrants into the market, we can make sure that Ofgem is keeping that market under review and we can give the best possible deal to British consumers.

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