Belfast Telegraph

Greg Clark's admission he has not switched provider angers money-saving expert

Energy Secretary Greg Clark's admission he has never switched provider to find a better deal has been branded "disgraceful" by a consumer expert.

Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, whose Cheap Energy Club encourages engagement with the switching process, responded after Mr Clark said he had not switched because it is a "hassle", despite encouraging consumers to do so.

Mr Lewis wrote on Twitter: "Disgraceful. That should probably disqualify him from being energy minister. He should've tried just so he has lived experience."

Mr Clark's comment comes after the Conservatives' announcement they will cap "rip off" gas and electricity prices if they return to power following the General Election.

In March, Mr Clark said the Government has worked with the industry to make it "quicker and easier" to switch supplier so consumers can find the best deal.

But when pressed by BBC Breakfast on Tuesday about when he had last changed suppliers, Mr Clark said: "I haven't switched, one of the reasons is... it is quite a hassle to do so.

"And in my view it shouldn't be necessary to have to switch, to have to go through the fuss, simply to avoid being ripped off.

"I think there should be a safeguard so that if you are loyal to your supplier, if you are someone that doesn't perhaps have access to the internet and is not able to haggle with your supplier, then you should pay a bit more than the best deals, but you shouldn't feel that your or shouldn't have the reality of paying through the nose for that."

Last year the Competition and Markets Authority warned 70% of people were on the more expensive "default" standard variable tariff, costing consumers £1.4 billion more than a competitive market.

Ofgem also said customers could save more than £300 by leaving expensive standard variable tariffs for the cheapest deal, often a fixed-term tariff.

Earlier this year independent supplier First Utility said households have lost almost £800 each over three years by remaining on expensive standard variable tariffs with the Big Six companies.

Responding at the time Mr Clark said the Government has been clear energy companies should treat all their customers fairly, and agreed recent price rises were hitting ordinary households.

He also said they are prepared to act wherever markets are not working for consumers.

Mr Clark added: "We've worked with industry to make it quicker and easier to switch supplier and nearly eight million people are now benefiting from better deals, but millions of energy customers continue to pay too much."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change also said in June that due to government action there are "more deals to choose from than ever before".

"We would encourage people who do not feel they are receiving a good deal to switch now," she said.

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