• Energy tariffs are now simpler after Ofgem's ban on complex tariffs came into force yesterday
• Consumers now have the choice they want and the simplicity they need to get a better deal from the energy market
• From April 2014 further reforms will kick-in giving consumers clearer information about their energy
• Households who have never switched can save more than £200 per year
It's getting easier to get a better energy deal afer Ofgem's ban on complex tariffs kicked in yesterday.
The changes are part of Ofgem's reforms for a simpler, clearer, fairer energy market. These reforms are the biggest changes to the retail energy market since competition was introduced in the late 1990s.
From yesterday, Ofgem is banning suppliers from offering complex tariffs, for example where consumers are initially charged a higher rate, which falls the more they use. The reforms also mean that once a consumer has decided how they want to pay for energy they will have just four tariffs to choose from for gas and four for electricity, from each supplier. Together these changes will make it far easier for consumers to compare deals and find the best tariff for them.
From April 2014 a range of reforms are also coming into force to give consumers much clearer information on energy. For example, suppliers will have to tell consumers regularly in writing which of their tariffs is cheapest for them on bills, annual statements and other communications.
Andrew Wright, Ofgem Chief Executive, said:
"It is getting easier for consumers to get a better energy deal and by April further help will arrive in the form of much clearer and personalised information.
"The aim of our simpler, clearer, fairer reforms is to ensure competition bears down hard on prices. Profits are not an entitlement, they should be earned by companies competing keenly to offer consumers the lowest prices and the best service.
"Now it is up to suppliers to build on our reforms to restore consumer confidence in the energy market. There are good signs that they are taking up this challenge.
"Ofgem will produce an annual report to consumers on the health of competition in the market. We will not hesitate to take further action if we see evidence of further barriers to competition."
Under Ofgem's reforms suppliers must structure their tariffs using only a single unit rate and, if they choose, a standing charge. Some suppliers have tariffs with a zero or low standing charge, and if consumers consider these tariffs better suit their needs, we expect that suppliers will keep offering them.
The ban on complex tariffs follows the introduction in October 2013 of Ofgem's rules for fixed-term tariffs. These rules ban suppliers from increasing prices on fixed-term tariffs. Suppliers are also banned from automatically rolling householders on to another fixed-term offer when their current one ends.
And, since the end of August 2013, all suppliers have had to meet new standards of conduct set by Ofgem. These require suppliers to treat all consumers fairly and in an honest, transparent and professional manner. They must make sure that any information given to consumers is clear and easy to understand.