Switching Suppliers - making it easy for consumers to switch

Closed 4 Dec 2015

Opened 22 Oct 2015

Results updated 9 May 2016

Following the responses to the call for evidence, and drawing on the wide body of evidence, we’re considering legislative options for switching in the communications sectors.

We’re also considering how to make switching even easier; and are working with the regulators to look at the time it takes to switch in different sectors.

This publication sets out the government’s response to the call for evidence on switching and next steps in the form of an action plan.

Detail of feedback received
We received responses from 59 organisations. These mainly came from the following sectors:
price comparison websites
Others included consumer organisations, academics, non-departmental public bodies, charities and credit reference agencies.

We also received responses from 505 consumers and over 6,000 responded via the Which? survey.


If you knew you had won £200 on the lottery, would you forget to claim it? Probably not.  Yet consumers across the UK are effectively ignoring significant savings every year when they stick with their current providers of essential but routine services. We’re very familiar with the concept of comparing tins of beans, or headphones, or holidays. We look at price, quality of product and customer service and we are happy to change providers in search of a good deal. But what about those essential and often costly on-going things we buy such as energy, current accounts, telephone, broadband and TV services? How often do we look at and change these?

We want to make switching easier for consumers, and we've set out 6 principles which we think will make the process more straightforward.

The 6 principles:

  • Switching should be free to the consumer, unless they are aware of and have consented to fair and reasonable restrictions and charges to do so.
  • The switching process itself should be quick, at an agreed date.
  • The switching process should be led by the organisation with most interest in making the switching process work effectively – the gaining provider.
  • Consumers should have access to their consumption or transaction data. This should be in a format that can be easily reused (e.g. midata) and they should be able to authorise third parties such as comparison sites to access their data to help them to switch.
  • Sites and tools providing comparisons to consumers that receive payments from suppliers should make clear where this affects the presentation of results.
  • There should be an effective process for consumers to get redress if anything goes wrong in the switching process.

Why your views matter

We want to hear about your experiences of switching, and if you think that energy, current account and telecommunications suppliers are working within these principles, or not, and the impact this has. We'd welcome views and experiences of switching suppliers in other areas such as insurance, credit cards, savings and mortgages.

In addition, we are seeking the views of regulators and industry on the barriers to implementing these principles in their sectors.

We are running this Call for Evidence to pinpoint key problems for consumers across sectors and identify specific actions that will make switching easier for consumers.


  • SMEs (small and medium businesses)
  • Large businesses (over 250 staff)
  • Multinational businesses
  • Business journalists
  • Trade bodies
  • Legal representative
  • Medium business (50 to 250 staff)
  • Micro business (up to 9 staff)
  • Small business (10 to 49 staff)
  • Consumer organisations
  • Consumer law specialists
  • Consumers
  • Consumers
  • Charities
  • Local government
  • Charity or social enterprise
  • Central government
  • Individual
  • Regulator


  • Economic growth
  • Consumer rights
  • Regulation and red tape