The codes will be made a compulsory addition to energy bills at the end of the year pending a response to a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)-led consultation launched today (10 March). The consultation will garner opinion on what data the codes will capture with the Government claiming the initiative will make it easier for billpayers to hunt for better offers.
The idea is to allow customers to make “instant cross-market comparison” when they scan the barcodes from their smartphone of tablet devices. Tariff and consumption data could then be uploaded directly to price comparison sites for customers to instantly compare with other suppliers.
The Government said it is “taking action” under the Energy Act to push through the changes and encourage the industry to develop apps that allow people to use the QR codes. It follows a study from the DECC that revealed there has been no “voluntary move” by the energy sector to introduce QR codes despite there being “no barriers” to introducing it.
Ed Davey, secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change, says: “We’re determined to make energy markets work better for consumers – and despite all the evidence showing that QR codes on bills would make a real difference to people, energy companies still haven’t done anything about it.
“Consumers now have a real choice with the number of small energy suppliers doubling since 2010. By opening up the energy market and the steps we are taking to make switching easy, we have already seen more than 1.5million people make the switch in the last quarter alone.”
The DECC says the QR code rollout is part of its Midata scheme to give consumers instant digital access to the information collected by brands for marketing purposes.
Energy UK, which represents the UK’s energy sector, says suppliers are already ramping up efforts to help customers find better deals.