Under the current switching process – which was originally developed in the late 1990s – it takes up to three weeks to switch your gas or electricity supplier. As well as being slow, many people find this switching process complicated with delays, errors and costs. However, that is all set to change this summer with the rollout of Ofgem’s new Switching Programme.
The aim of the new programme is to radically transform the switching journey, making things faster and more reliable for all business customers. As a result, these positive changes should also lead to improvements in customer service, with a reduction in delays and erroneous switches, as well as increased competition in the energy industry. With the latter creating greater choice in the market, it is believed businesses will have more opportunity to find the most suitable supply contract, and make savings on energy bills when prices eventually settle down.
To help you get ready for the changes taking place later this summer, we’ve summarised what’s happening below. Here’s what you need to know…
What to expect from Ofgem’s faster switching
- A new central switching service
Although the switch will go through your energy supplier as usual, behind the scenes things will operate very differently. A centralised switching service (CSS) will soon integrate with the rest of the energy industry using a real-time message-based system so everything becomes more efficient. It means information relating to the transfer of supply such as supply address, supply type, customer start dates, and meter point information, can all be sent and received more quickly and securely.
- Switch suppliers in just 2 days
Right now the industry standard is 21 days to change energy suppliers. However, with the new processes in place, the regulatory switching period will be reduced to the following: 1 day for domestic customers and new connections; 2 working days for business customers; 4 working days for large gas business customers; and 5 working days for ‘Pay as you go’ customers.
- A shorter objection window for suppliers
Energy suppliers can object to losing a customer for a variety of reasons including outstanding debt or fixed term contracts, and historically they have 7 working days to do this for gas, and 5 working days for electricity. However, under the new switching process the objection window is considerably shorter, meaning suppliers will now only have 2 working days to object to a business energy switch. This is the same regardless of the switch date, making the whole process faster and more efficient.
- A new annulment process
A small number of switches are initiated by mistake. Stopping these erroneous transfers is often time-consuming, taking up to 60 days or longer. However, the new annulment process means when business customers contact their current supplier, providing it’s within the annulment window, the supplier can send an annulment request to the CSS which cancels the switch straight away.
Set up for success
With Ofgem’s new switching programme in place, businesses should find switching to a new supplier faster and more reliable from this summer. However, there are two important things businesses can do to help make sure everything runs smoothly and make sure the first bill from your new supplier is accurate.
- Provide a meter reading taken on the day your supply switches over.
- Submit a VAT certificate if your business is eligible for the lower, domestic VAT rate of 5%. This will depend on the type of business you own and the way you use energy.
You can apply for a VAT certificate easily online or by post.
Want to know more?
You can read more about the benefits of the new switching programme on Ofgem’s website here.