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Minister urges energy supply switch
Details of a review of energy market competition will be unveiled, with Energy Secretary Ed Davey set to reveal the start date of the process
Households must switch energy suppliers if they want to keep their bills down this winter, Ed Davey said today amid criticism that Government action will be too late to help struggling customers.
The Energy Secretary is unveiling details of a review into competition within the energy market later today, as divisions over how to address spiralling household bills continue to dominate political debate.
It will investigate prices and profits, competition and customer engagement in the industry but Labour said the inquiry, which will report back next summer, will do little to help consumers over the coming months.
"Switching is what's going to help people this winter," Mr Davey told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"People can get good deals out there.
"Competition is actually beginning to show results. We have been very active in pushing competition to make bills simpler, tariffs less confusing, so people can really exercise choice.
"So, the annual assessment will look at what we have done, but also suggest ideas of how we can go further because we are not complacent. We want to make sure markets are working for consumers."
Smaller energy companies have accused the "Big Six" of ripping off bill-payers, particularly those who remain loyal to one firm.
Mr Davey said: "Some of them clearly are making too much on some of their consumers because that's why they can make such big savings if they switch."
In a Commons statement, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister will reveal the start date of the review, promised by Prime Minister David Cameron as he sought to wrestle the initiative on the issue from Labour.
It will be conducted by industry regulator Ofgem, the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading.
From April, the Competition and Markets Authority will take over the role of the Commission and consumer activities of the OFT.
Ed Miliband, who has pledged a 20-month energy bill freeze if Labour wins the 2015 general election, has dismissed the review.
"How will a review that reports next summer help people to pay their bills this winter?" the Labour leader asked when the issue again dominated Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.
Today's announcement, which will be made as part of Mr Davey's annual Commons statement on energy, came amid continued coalition tensions over so-called "green levies".
Mr Cameron has vowed to look at scaling back the environmental subsidies, which under-fire energy firms blame in part for fast-rising bills for customers.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would fight any " hasty, ill-thought-through change" in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement in December.
He said it was "totally implausible" that bill hikes were being caused by green levies, adding that the proportion it accounted for in terms of costs was unchanged from last year.
But a suggestion by the Liberal Democrat leader that the levies could simply be "rolled over" into general taxation was played down by a senior Conservative.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said the proposal was "only one option that one minister referred to".
Mr Clegg said energy companies will be made to allow customers to switch tariffs within 24 hours.
Speaking on LBC 97.3 he said: "We need more other providers offering you better tariffs than the Big Six and that's why, under this Government, we have got 15 alternative providers offering you really, really good deals.
"We are going to make sure that can be done in 24 hours."
Mr Clegg said he had not switched "for a long while" because he had been "content" that he was on the best tariff.
Asked how much he paid, he replied: "I'm not going to start going into my own quarterly bill."