© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The sun rises behind electricity pylons near Chester, northern England October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
LONDON (Reuters) – The British government said on Friday it plans to trial automatic switching for consumers on expensive default energy tariffs to cheaper deals.
The government said 15 million households are on default tariffs who could be paying hundreds of pounds more a year for their energy.
While around 5.8 million households switched energy supplier last year, energy market regulator Ofgem has said less than half of British households regularly shop around for a better energy deal in a market where there are over 50 suppliers.
Under the plans, which ministers will need to consult on, trials of automatic switching will take place in 2024, in which some consumers on costly tariffs would be automatically switched to cheaper ones on the market unless they opt out.
The government has also proposed a framework by 2024 where consumers on the most expensive tariffs would receive personalised switching advice to switch to a better value tariff.
The government said the moves are designed to protect customers from rip-off energy deals, help them save on their energy bills, and increase competition by encouraging suppliers to introduce fairer but also greener tariffs.
The government also said that the energy price cap on the most common form of gas and electricity tariffs could continue beyond 2023 if needed.
The cap was introduced in January 2019 to put a lid on standard variable tariffs, the basic rate that energy suppliers charge if a customer does not opt for a specific fixed-term deal.
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