The profits was found to be dropped to $1.1 billion last year as they show signs of losing their grip on the market to a new generation of energy start-ups.
The companies faced further misfortune this winter as the Government’s controversial cap on standard energy prices descended on around 11 million accounts—despite signs that market competition is improving.
Over 73 energy companies are competing to supple gas and power to Britain’s homes—out of which ¼ th have opted for a new entrant to the market.
Gillian Guy, head of Citizens Advice, stated that the rising number of people opting for new energy suppliers “underlines why it’s so important that Ofgem tightens up its licensing rules”.
“We know that some suppliers entering the market aren’t prepared to provide adequate customer service, or aren’t financially robust enough to survive.” She further stated.
“Poor customer service often hits vulnerable customers the hardest. It needs to stop poorly prepared companies from entering the market, and take badly performing suppliers out of the market quicker,” she concluded.
The record high proportion of energy challenger brands, and record switching rates have done little to abide worries that customers are being ‘ripped off’ by the larger suppliers. Around 50% of the all homes still use standard variable tariffs to buy their energy which are typically offered as a default option by larger suppliers and are more expensive than fixed rate deals.
Dermot Nolan, chief executive at Ofgem, stated that there have been “many positive developments in energy over the last year, but the market is still not delivering good outcomes for all, especially the vulnerable.”
The report found that a lack of engagement and fuel poverty is disproportionately prevalent in socially vulnerable households and poorly insulated homes.
Notable, both areas of the market have been sidelined by the regulator and Government officials in recent years.
The Government’s flagship energy efficiency programme to upgrade drafty homes through the Green Deal scheme was closed in the summer of 2015.
Nolan had, earlier this year, apologized publicly for failing vulnerable customers by waiting to introduce a safeguard tariff cap for those using a standard variable tariff. He confirmed before a committee of MPs that he would not receive a bonus for the year.
Claire Perry, the energy and clean growth minister stated: “We’re determined to protect vulnerable consumers when it comes to their energy costs.”