SSE and British Gas at bottom of poor-value deals league table

Energy giants SSE and British Gas account for more than half of all customers on poor-value standard variable tariff (SVT) deals, Ofgem has found.

SSE has come at the bottom of the regulator's new league table ranking the 10 largest suppliers, with 71% of its customers still on the expensive deals.

The table shows that SVTs are still around £300 more expensive than the cheapest deals on the market.

British Gas ranked second from the bottom with 67% of its customers on SVTs.

Of the 10 largest companies included in the table, the three with the smallest proportion of customers on SVTs are all independent suppliers - First Utility (23%), Ovo Energy (28%) and Co-Operative Energy (35%) respectively.

Ofgem said the decline in the overall number of customers on these tariffs is accelerating thanks to record switching rates in 2017.

As of the end of September, 57% of customers who are not protected under Ofgem's pre-payment safeguard tariff were on standard variable tariffs compared with 59% in April.

However, the regulator said suppliers still need to do more to help them get a better deal.

Some large suppliers have announced plans to use new Ofgem rules to roll customers automatically on to fixed default deals instead of an SVT as part of wider initiatives to phase out the tariffs.

But Ofgem said that while such moves were "a step in the right direction", they must lead to inactive customers "genuinely benefiting from a significantly better deal, and not just being put on a rebranded poor-value tariff".

Meanwhile, Ofgem announced a further extension to its safeguard tariff to more vulnerable customers on standard variable and default deals to protect them from overpaying for their energy for next winter.

From February, one million vulnerable households will be covered by Ofgem's safeguard tariff and Ofgem is proposing to extend this to another two million before next winter.

Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan said: "Ofgem's league table shows which suppliers have the most work to do to get all their customers a better deal.

"Some of the larger suppliers have a significantly lower proportion of customers on poor value standard variable deals than SSE, British Gas and E.ON in particular. This shows it is possible to help more of these customers get a better deal and it is unacceptable that so many are still paying too much for their energy."

An SSE spokeswoman said: "While some customers tell us they like the flexibility that SVTs offer, for other customers they have become less popular.

"That's why we recently announced that from April 2018, we will stop automatically rolling customers on to SVTs when they come to the end of their fixed-term contract. Instead customers will be rolled on to an equivalent or cheaper tariff with fixed prices for 12 months with no exit fees.

"SSE is committed to maintaining the direction of travel away from SVTs and wants to be part of the solution."

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