This has left the combined UK market share of the Big Six gas and electricity suppliers at a record low.
Last year, 5.1 million electricity consumers and 4.1 million gas consumers in total switched supplier, the highest number for almost a decade.
More than a third of these consumers switched from one their Big Six supplier to rival independent providers – many of them customers were switching for the first time.
As of 28 January 2018, the cheapest dual fuel deal on the market was £820 per year, while the average standard variable tariff on offer from one of the six larger suppliers was £1,135 per year
The number of consumers with a small or medium-sized energy supplier reached a record high last year, continuing a sustained, long term movement away from the six largest suppliers.
In December last year, smaller and medium sized suppliers were supplying 21% of consumers for electricity and 22% for gas in December last year. In 2013 their market share was 4.7% for electricity and 5% for gas.
The six largest energy suppliers’ market share stood at 79% for electricity and 78% for gas in December 2017, down from 84% for both gas and electricity at the end of 2016.
While more people are switching to get a better deal, those who have never switched or rarely do so are still being overcharged.
Around 57% of non-prepayment meter consumers are on poor value standard variable rates, which can be as much as £300 more expensive than the cheapest deals on the market.
Dermot Nolan, chief executive of the energy market regulator, OFGEM, said: “The largest suppliers are under pressure as more consumers switch away to small and medium sized suppliers.
“With more customers voting with their feet, the message is clear: suppliers need look at what they are offering to their customers or risk losing them.
“Nevertheless, there are still too many consumers who are paying too much for their energy, which is why we are introducing price protection whilst we reform the market, to make competition work for all consumers.”
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, commented: “This is further evidence of a highly competitive retail energy market and more and more people are benefitting from greater choice and saving money by switching.
“Switching is simple, speedy and safe, and the easiest way to save money on your energy bill. Our advice to consumers is simply pick up the phone to your existing supplier or go online to check you’re on the best tariff for you – and if not, switch.”
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