Keep it simple: Energy bills made easy, a report commissioned by comparethemarket.com, looks at the causes and possible solutions to the current low levels of switching in the UK energy market. It highlights current confusion around bills as a major barrier for people looking to take advantage of more competitive deals. A number of people within consumer focus groups said that they felt energy companies ‘did not speak the same language’. Other barriers to switching identified by the IPPR include a lack of trust in energy companies, physical barriers such as a lack of internet access and a lack of awareness of the ability to switch.
The report analyses a range of other issues within the energy market relating to consumer engagement, including how the wide roll out of smart meters will impact homes, the billing process and the content of bills. It analyses further billing processes in similar ‘utility’ markets and comparable energy markets abroad in order to learn lessons about Britain’s energy market could improve.
Following the release of this report, comparethemarket.com is launching a Simple Bills campaign, calling on Ofgem to mandate energy providers to simplify the information presented to customers on their bills by following a standardised format with clear, jargon-free language. As part of the report, based on the findings from consumer focus groups, the IPPR has produced an example of what a simple bill could look like.