Bye bye Big Six: independent energy suppliers post 50% rise in market share

660,000 fed-up customers have switched away from the energy giants in the last year

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The Independent Online

We’re turning our backs on the Big Six energy giants and moving to cheaper independent suppliers instead. New data from Cornwall Energy shows that independents now hold 13.4 per cent of the market, a 50 per cent rise over the year from 9 per cent last year.

First Utility continues to be the fastest-growing and now holds 4 per cent of the dual fuel market with 765,000 households. The Big Six firms - British Gas, EDF, E.on, NPower, Scottish Power and SSE - have effectively lost 660,000 customers in the last 12 months.

Robert Buckley of Cornwall Energy said: “The independents collectively now hold the fourth largest share of energy accounts in the market - truly breaking the stranglehold of the incumbents.”

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said: “The Big Six have repeatedly failed to deliver a decent standard of service so it's no wonder customers are starting to leave them in droves. Despite this the CMA has found there is a lack of competition which is leading to people paying much more than they should.

”We now need the competition inquiry to bring forward radical changes to boost competition, introduce fairer prices and encourage more households to switch to better deals.”

Last week two of the big six energy providers were the companies rated among the lowest when it comes to customer service in the UK. The latest Which? annual survey of the UK’s 100 biggest brands revealed, rather unsurprisingly, that Scottish Power was ranked the lowest with a customer score of just 59 per cent, just behind Npower which scored a not-much-better 61 per cent. In comparison, the top-rate company got 89 per cent.

Ed Kamm, chief customer officer at First Utility said the rapid growth of independents is testament to consumers wanting something different – lower energy prices and better value from their provider.  But he pointed out that while many have already switched, 40 per cent have still never made a move and more than 70 per cent of the Big Six’s customers are on the most expensive standard variable tariff.

“We won’t be satisfied until many more people are switching and saving,” he said. “We believe the key to this is a fairer, more transparent energy market to ensure consumers are getting the best deal and money can be put back in people’s pockets.”

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