The changes coming in at the end of 2014 mean that once the customer signs up with a new supplier they will still have the 14-day cooling off period, with the switch completing three days after.
Ofgem, which has also been working with suppliers and DECC to speed up switching times, has also published new proposals to make the switching process more reliable and to put next-day switching in place by the end of 2018 at the latest.
This will be made possible by replacement of the IT systems used in the switching process, which were originally developed in the 1990s. These changes represent a significant modernisation of infrastructure which will help consumers take full advantage of the benefits of smart meters, and pave the way for reliable, fast and easy switching for all.
Dermot Nolan, Ofgem Chief Executive, 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 now that we have taken steps to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching.
“We hope this will give consumers more confidence to get out there and start shopping around. You can save upwards of £200 by changing supplier and independent advice is available from the Be An Energy Shopper website at www.goenergyshopping.co.uk.”
Currently switches take around five weeks, including a statutory upfront 14-day cooling off period (see notes to editors). And from this August, new Ofgem rules come into force meaning suppliers could face investigation and fines if they cannot meet these timescales.
A spokeswoman for Energy UK – the trade association which represents utility suppliers – said: “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.”