Energy customers get switch rights under Ofgem plans

From BBC News:

Households with pre-payment meters who owe up to £500 to their energy supplier will be able to switch to cheaper deals with another firm under new measures.

It is part of a push by regulator Ofgem to encourage suppliers to work more effectively with struggling bill-payers and use disconnection as a last resort.

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Ofgem will also be given powers to help customers gain compensation if they have lost money owing to energy companies breaking industry rules, under the government proposals to be unveiled by Energy Secretary Mr Davey at the Lib Dem conference.

Ofgem already has the power to penalise energy firms heavily when they break the terms of their licences, for example by mis-selling products or overcharging, but the money from those fines goes straight to the Treasury.

The new powers will allow Ofgem to force suppliers to pay compensation directly to their customers, in cases where a voluntary agreement cannot be reached.

They also include a £5m fund for schemes which bring local people together to switch energy supplier en masse in a bid to secure lower bills.

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The cash will go to the best initiatives drawn up by local councils and community groups, with Mr Davey warning that without them the best deals were reserved for "well-heeled internet savvy" consumers.

He was inspired to offer the funding after being present at the launch of such a move in Cornwall - set up jointly by a local authority, the NHS, a trade union, the Eden Project and a brewery.