Brave and bold, but big switch auction doesn't quite deliver
The announcement that Co-operative Energy has won the Big Switch auction with a plan that is more expensive than the cheapest tariff already on the market, and that will only be made available to 30,000 people, brings a disappointing end to the first attempt at collective switching.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: "The Big Switch was a brave and bold move, but the outcome is disappointing. 280,000 people signed up, and yet the winning deal will only be offered to 30,000 on a first come, first served basis. This means that the lucky few will be leaving the process with a deal that is more expensive than the cheapest plan on the market, while those who get the fall back offer of EDF Energy's Blue+ Price Promise plan will be getting a tariff that is already readily available on the market and that they could have signed up to weeks ago.
"However, it's good news that the bid has gone to a smaller, new entrant supplier as this will help to encourage more consumers to realise that the smaller players are a serious and viable alternative to the big six suppliers that currently dominate the market.
"At £1,027 a year, First:Utility still offers the cheapest energy plan in the market today, coming in at £21 a year cheaper than the price the Co-op is offering and £27 a year cheaper than EDF Energy's plan. Moreover, it's highly likely that there will be people who are already on more competitive tariffs. This is why we would urge everyone who has signed up to the Big Switch to run an independent price comparison, making sure to check the whole of the market. This is especially important for those who have switched before as the deals they are already on may actually be more competitive.
"However, this mustn't detract from the fact that the Big Switch has provided a benefit to those who have never switched before - they will be getting a better deal than the one they are on and it has opened their eyes to the benefits of switching. The scheme has also provided some valuable learnings and Which? is to be applauded for taking this first brave step. Its experiences will be invaluable to the rest of the industry and we look forward to hearing the feedback. We still believe that collective purchasing offers a new way to encourage people who have never switched before to get involved in the market."