Scottish power giant tops OFGEM ‘league of SVT shame’ for poor customer value-for-money

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of SSE
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of SSE: ‘No comment’

Perth-based Big Six utility SSE has come ‘top of the league of shame’ after coming bottom of Ofgem’s new league table ranking the 10 largest British gas and electricity suppliers on how many customers on poor value standard variable tariffs they have.

Together with British Gas, which comes second from bottom, the two suppliers account for over half  (50% of all customers on these poor value deals.

The table also shows that standard variable tariffs are still around £300 more expensive than the cheapest deals on the market.

Of the 10 largest suppliers shown, the three suppliers with the smallest proportion of customers on standard variable tariffs are all independent suppliers – First Utility (which comes top), followed by Ovo Energy and Co-Operative Energy respectively.

The decline in the overall number of customers on these tariffs is accelerating thanks to record switching rates in 2017.

As of the end of September, 57% of customers who are not protected under OFGEM’s prepayment safeguard tariff, were on standard variable tariffs. This compares to 59% in April of this year. 

Dermot Nolan, OFGEM chief executive, commented: “Suppliers, particularly large suppliers with the highest proportion of customers on poor value standard variable deals, need to do more to help them get a better deal.

 “In recent months, some large suppliers have announced plans to use new OFGEM rules to roll customers automatically onto fixed default deals instead of a standard variable tariff as part of wider initiatives by suppliers to phase out these tariffs.

“While such moves are a step in the right direction, they must lead to inactive customers genuinely benefiting from a significantly better deal, and not just being put on a rebranded poor value tariff.”


The table (below) gives the latest trends on how poor value default tariffs, particularly ‘standard variable’ tariffs (SVTs), compare across the 10 largest suppliers in the market.

It shows the number of non-prepayment (non-PPM) customer accounts that have remained on SVTs since OFGEM’s April 2017 update. It also shows how the average prices paid by a household on an SVT compare with the cheapest tariffs available from their supplier and those available across the market. 


Supplier Proportion of non-PPM customer accounts on SVT Sept 2017 in ascending order (1) Total non-PPM customer accounts on SVT Sept 2017 (2) % Change in the number of non-PPM accounts on SVT compared to April 2017 Average SVT price and relative ranking bracketed in ascending order (3) Differential relative to supplier’s cheapest tariff (3) Differential relative to market cheapest tariff (3)
First Utility 23% 179,433 16% 1,132 (5) 224 326
OVO Energy 28% 149,573 1% 1,097 (2) 127 291
Co-operative Energy 35% 128,081 -7% 1,158 (9) 192 352
Scottish Power 41% 1,030,523 0% 1,147 (8) 161 341
Npower 48% 1,186,081 -5% 1,166 (10) 158 360
EDF 52% 1,503,954 -3% 1,142 (7) 125 336
Utility Warehouse 53% 247,959 0% 1,123 (4) 99 317
E.ON 61% 2,046,015 -9% 1,133 (6) 222 327
British / Scottish Gas 67% 4,477,308 -8% 1,090 (1) 62 284
SSE 71% 2,408,529 -4% 1,121 (3) 96 315

Source: Pricing information sourced from Energyhelpline. Customer accounts 

League table: latest trends in ‘standard variable’ tariffs (September 2017 data)

Prepayment meter (PPM) accounts are excluded from this data. This is because the price a supplier can charge a PPM customer is capped until 2020 under a Safeguard Tariff. PPM customers also have a limited tariff choice available to them, which means that they cannot access many of the cheapest deals in the market.

21 Dec 2017

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