|Energy firms vow to cut switching times in half
| Energy firms have agreed to halve the time it takes for customers to switch supplier by the end of the year, according to the Government.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said reducing the switching period from five weeks to two and a half could be met despite the "challenge" of changing IT systems.
But he said he still wanted to see the period cut as far as the 24 hours he called for in a review in October.
"I'm pleased the industry has responded to my challenge and will now cut in half the time it takes to switch energy supplier," Mr Davey said.
"Delivering this by the end of this year is a challenge in itself but with the technical code changes with Ofgem for final approval, firms now have the time to change their IT systems and I'm reassured they can manage the remaining practical issues.
"While it's great news we are making energy switching twice as fast, my long-term ambition remains to get to 24-hour switching.
"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."
People considering switching should not wait for the change, he suggested, as some could save hundreds of pounds.
High energy bills have been at the centre of a political battle since Ed Miliband announced that Labour would impose a 20-month price freeze if the party wins the 2015 general election.
Energy UK chief executive Angela Knight said: "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."
Independent suppliers Ovo and First Utility recently started an energy price war, offering annual tariffs of less than £1,000.