Commenting on Government proposals to force the "Big Six" energy companies to simplify and speed up the switching process, Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket.com, said:

"The way energy bills have been rising in recent years is unsustainable and something definitely needs to be done to address the problems in the industry. Households simply can't afford to keep absorbing above inflation price hikes. It is therefore great to see the government pledge to tackle the problems and look at measures to make switching energy provider easier. We fully support proposals to force the "Big Six" to offer clearer information because households need help to reduce the amount they spend to heat and light their homes.

"Breaking down barriers to switching is crucial, and as we have seen in the current account switching market, the seven day switch guarantee is resulting in a higher number of people changing banks.

"Switching energy provider isn't actually that complicated but the perception amongst consumers is that it is. This is largely down to the fact that many people don't understand how their bills are calculated which deters them from switching. And although the application process can be completed in around five minutes, the transfer then takes an average of six weeks to go through. Introducing a similar guarantee to the banking industry would not only speed up the process, it would also hopefully give more people the confidence to move to a better deal. If we could get more people switching it would boost competition in the market.

"The current consumer apathy is one of the biggest barriers to competition and one of the main reasons why the Big Six continue to control the market.

Gas Flame (PD)"The latest round of price hikes does seem to have struck a chord though. It appears that many people have reached their tipping point and are no longer prepared to sit back and simply accept higher bills. We are seeing more people take action and move to a cheaper deal, but there is still a long way to go before switching becomes the norm.

"Changes to the energy industry will not happen overnight, so it is well worth people taking action now to minimise bills and ensure they are on the best tariff for their region and usage. The good news is, there are savings to be made and we urge anyone currently paying their provider's standard prices, to take five minutes, go online and switch to a fixed rate tariff. Not only will they save themselves money, they'll also protect themselves from any further price increases we may see while the government and energy providers battle it out about what they'll do to tackle the current problems in the industry."

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