SSE loses 230,000 customers

21st July 2017 | Residential Energy

SSE lost nearly a quarter of a million customers in the three months to June as it warned that it faced “complex challenges” this year. The UK’s second biggest supplier has been shedding customers at a faster rate than before, with the exodus of 230,000 and 210,000 households switching to rival suppliers in the last financial year.

The “big six” firm, which is not down to 7.7m customer accounts, put up its energy prices by 6.9% or £73 in April. It blamed the losses on a ”highly competitive” retail energy market.

There are now a record 58 firms in this UK market and the so-called challenger firms are gradually taking a larger share of the pie.

In April, during the flurry of price increases by five of the big six suppliers, 41% of the switches were from larger firms to smaller ones. However, recent figures show that that share fell back in June to 35%.

Of the big six, SSE has the highest percentage of customers – 91% – on standard variable tariffs, the default rates that bill-payers move on to when cheaper, fixed, deals come to an end.
Such tariffs were criticised as a “rip-off” by Theresa May and ministers during the general election campaign, and both the Conservatives and Labour threatened to imposes a price cap on them.

But the plans have since been hugely watered down and it looks likely that 14 million fewer people will have their energy bills capped than May promised.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, held a summit on Monday with consumer groups to discuss what form a “safeguard tariff” would take. Groups that attended said the talks were encouraging but that future discussions should also cover setting targets for suppliers to shift customers off standard variable tariffs.

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