Energy customers will be able to switch providers in two and a half weeks – half the time it currently takes – by the end of the year, the Government said today.

Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, says cutting the time it takes to switch will boost competition in the energy market.

"I'm pleased the industry has responded to my challenge and will now cut in half the time it takes to switch energy supplier," he says.

He admits "delivering this by the end of this year is a challenge in itself" but insists he is reassured companies could manage any practical issues and had time to change their IT systems.

The long-term goal, first mentioned last October, is to cut switching times to 24 hours.

"While it’s great news we are making energy switching twice as fast, my long term ambition remains to get to 24 hour switching” he adds.

"Our ambitious programme to roll out 53 million smart meters by the end of this decade can unlock this and next month Ofgem will consult on the most effective and quickest ways to introduce next day switching."

Energy companies have agreed to the change to make it easier and quicker for people to switch gas and electricity suppliers.

Energy UK, which represents gas and electricity firms, says in a statement: "The energy industry believes in faster switching and will make it a reality for customers as quickly as we can and as soon as the legal and technical challenges are overcome."

Lack of competition

The big six energy companies are already under scrutiny after Ofgem said they were preventing competition in the industry.

It referred them to the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) in March and a full-scale investigation is likely to begin in June and is expected to take around 18 months to complete.

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