Home Finances Awards 2019 – the winners revealed

12 November 2019

Are you happy with your energy supplier? Maybe you have had enough of your broadband provider? Find out which are the top household names in this year’s awards

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With so many different firms offering broadband, electricity, gas, mobile and TV packages, choosing the right one can be a difficult decision.

The vast array of deals available means it can be difficult to find the one that offers the best value.

This is why every year we ask Moneywise readers to tell us about the top home service providers in the country.

The Moneywise Home Finances Awards are designed to help consumers make an informed choice about a range of household services – from energy suppliers to broadband providers.

The awards are based on the Moneywise Home Finances Survey, and this year we had more than 10,000 respondents who named their favourite companies and the ones that they feel offer the best value for money.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote in our survey – and here are the firms you picked as the best providers in the UK in 2019.

Utilities

Gas and electricity

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The likes of Bulb and Octopus mean there’s a base of emerging suppliers who are continuing to challenge the Big Six in the domestic energy market.

Growing competition in the energy market as well as a price cap on tariffs have hit suppliers hard, forcing them to review their businesses.

This year Big Six energy provider SSE sold its retail business to the independent provider Ovo, while a number of smaller suppliers have gone to the wall.

In January we also saw the introduction of the price cap from Ofgem to protect vulnerable customers from unjustified price rises on standard variable tariffs.

Energy firms can now charge no more than £1,179 a year for the average household, but if you shop around you could still save hundreds by switching.

With the average dual fuel variable tariff now costing around £100 per month, it is no wonder that so many customers are jumping ship from the Big Six and signing up with an independent supplier.

The runaway winner for the second year in a row was Utility Warehouse, which came top in all the categories it was entered in.

Utility Warehouse guarantees customers will pay less than the average of the cheapest variable tariffs from the Big Six providers. It also promises to match any of the Big Six if one of them lowers their tariff.

If you opt for its Double Gold bundle you will be able to take advantage of its fixed-price tariff, which will guarantee no price rises until 31 August, 2020.

As well as gas and electricity, customers with Utility Warehouse can also buy broadband, landline and mobile services.

Our survey respondents rated Utility Warehouse highly for value for money, customer service and quality of smart meters.

While there have been a raft of challenger energy providers in recent years, the Big Six energy providers in the UK account for roughly 75% of the market.

Our Best of the Big Six winner was Scottish Power, beating off stiff competition from E.ON, which came in second place.

BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

WINNER

Utility Warehouse

Highly commended: Ebico Energy

BEST OF THE BIG SIX

WINNER

Scottish Power

Highly commended: E.ON

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE

WINNER

Utility Warehouse

Highly commended: Scottish Power

BEST FOR CLARITY OF BILLS

WINNER

Utility Warehouse

Highly commended: Scottish Power

BEST FOR MONEY-SAVING TIPS AND GADGETS

WINNER

Utility Warehouse

Highly commended: Octopus Energy

Supermarkets

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The dominance of the big four supermarkets has been in decline in recent years with more people opting for cheaper retailers such as Aldi and Lidl.

Shoppers hit by rising prices and stagnant wages have been flocking to budget supermarkets in order to reduce their shopping bills.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that food inflation rose by 1.8% in the year to August, and there are fears that prices could rise higher following Brexit.

While Aldi and Lidl look to expand, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are both axing stores as part of a shake-up to fend off competition from cheaper rivals.

Research from consumer panel Kantar shows that Aldi’s market share has risen to 8%, compared to 7.3% a year ago. Meanwhile, Lidl has seen its market share grow from 5.3% to 5.6%.

Not only are shoppers having to cope with price rises, they are also having to deal with big brands reducing the size of their products – known as 'shrinkflation'.

In this year’s survey, Aldi came first for best supermarket for the second year in a row, with Waitrose not far behind.

Readers also voted Aldi the best value for money with Lidl in second place, highlighting the competition the big supermarkets now face.

One customer commented: “Quality is always good, price is always amazing and staff are always cheerful and helpful.

“It’s nice to go shopping and feel appreciated as a customer – and Aldi never fails to achieve this.”

The new kids on the block didn’t have it all their own way, though. When it comes to quality of produce, Marks & Spencer took the honours this year, with Waitrose coming in in second place.

However, Waitrose was voted the best in-store experience by our readers, beating Marks & Spencer into second place.

Iceland was voted the best online supermarket, with readers complimenting the company on its quality and range of products.

Loyalty cards can be a great way to save money on your shopping, especially if you tend to use the same supermarket regularly. Moneywise readers voted Tesco Clubcard their favourite loyalty card, while Co-op was highly commended.

BEST SUPERMARKET

WINNER

Aldi

Highly commended: Waitrose

BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

WINNER
Aldi

Highly commended: Lidl

BEST QUALITY PRODUCE

WINNER

Marks & Spencer

Highly commended: Waitrose

Best In-store experience

WINNER

Waitrose

Highly commended:

Marks & Spencer

BEST ONLINE SUPERMARKET

WINNER

Iceland

Highly commended: Tesco

NEW: BEST LOYALTY SCHEME

WINNER

Tesco

Highly commended:

Co-op

Mobile phones

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There are lots of new mobile networks challenging the established providers.

Often using the same networks as the bigger providers, many of them offer more generous contracts and cheaper deals.

Moneywise readers recommended O2 as the best mobile provider this year.

It scored highly for its customer service and its network coverage, with customers particularly impressed with the reliability of the network.

EE was highly commended and praised by our readers for its speed and value.

When it comes to value for money, there were two firms head and shoulders above the competition.

Giigaff won the category, with Tesco Mobile coming in second place.

Giffgaff offers greater flexibility over other providers, allowing you to change your plan each month as well as offering a range of competitive deals.

Tesco Mobile was voted number one for those on contracts, edging iD Mobile into second place.

The most recommended pay-as-you-go winner is Virgin Media, with readers praising its competitive prices and value for money. Giffgaff is highly commended in this category.

MOST RECOMMENDED MOBILE NETWORK

WINNER

O2

Highly commended: EE

BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

WINNER

Giffgaff

Highly commended: Tesco Mobile

MOST RECOMMENDED CONTRACT

WINNER

Tesco Mobile

Highly commended: Three

BEST VALUE-FOR-MONEY CONTRACT

WINNER

Tesco Mobile

Highly commended: iD Mobile

MOST RECOMMENDED PAY AS YOU GO

WINNER

Virgin

Highly commended: Giffgaff

BEST VALUE-FOR-MONEY PAY AS YOU GO

WINNER

Giffgaff

Highly commended: Virgin Media

Broadband

While most Moneywise readers said they were happy with their broadband, one in seven said they were likely to change their broadband provider in the next year.

Our research found that most readers switch broadband for a faster speed or a cheaper deal.

This year BT was voted the best broadband provider for the third year in a row.

One reader said: “BT is still the only realistic option in rural areas, particularly if you require customer service.”

In second place was Virgin Media, which scored highly with customers in towns and cities where infra-structure is in place to deliver quality broadband fibre.

Plusnet was voted the best value broadband provider for the sixth year in a row. EE was highly com-mended in this category.

The good news is that Britain’s biggest broadband providers have committed to offering fairer prices to broadband customers following a review by Ofcom.

BT, Sky and TalkTalk will allow their out-of-contract customers to sign up for the same deals as new customers when they take out a new contract from February next year, so they should see their bills come down.

MOST RECOMMENDED BROADBAND PROVIDER

WINNER

BT

Highly commended: Virgin Media

BEST VALUE-FOR-MONEY BROADBAND PROVIDER

WINNER

Plusnet

Highly commended: EE

Paid-for TV

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Paid-for TV still remains extremely popular in the UK despite the growing competition from streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix.

From live sport to the latest blockbusters, paid-for TV packages offer something for everyone.

Moneywise readers voted Sky this year’s most recommended paid-for TV provider for the third year in a row, just pipping Virgin Media.

As well as showing US imports such as Game of Thrones, Sky is investing £1 billion a year in programming as it steps up its battle with the streaming giants. It made 50 original series last year, a figure that it plans to double in five years’ time.

Premier League football is still a big draw for Sky subscribers, but the channel is also the home of award-winning series such as Chernobyl.

MOST RECOMMENDED PAID-FOR TV

WINNER

Sky

Highly commended: Virgin Media

Video on demand

TV viewing habits are changing, with many viewers jumping ship from terrestrial channels and signing up with streaming services.

According to Ofcom, more than half of UK homes now subscribe to TV streaming services.

The number of viewers signed up to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon rose from

11.2 million in 2018 to 13.3 million this year.

The most popular streamed programmes in the UK were The Grand Tour on Amazon and Friends on Netflix.

Analysts have calculated that Netflix UK offers a staggering 32,600 hours of films and TV series, compared with Amazon, which has 22,600.

Netflix took top spot in the most recommended brand, pushing BBC iPlayer into second place.

Moneywise readers also voted Netflix their top choice in the best value category, despite strong competition from BBC iPlayer.

Our readers scored Netflix highly for its range of programming, which includes hits such as Stranger Things and The Crown.

MOST RECOMMENDED VIDEO ON DEMAND

WINNER

Netflix

Highly commended: BBC iPlayer

BEST VALUE-FOR-MONEY VIDEO ON DEMAND

WINNER

Netflix

Highly commended: BBC iPlayer

Home entertainment bundles

Over the past few years a growing number of providers have been offering packages that include a broadband, TV and phone contract, all rolled in together.

Home entertainment bundles are becoming increasingly popular with viewers because they are cheaper than paying for all the services separately from different firms, and you don’t have to deal with as many bills.

The great thing about a home entertainment bundle is that it can help you save money. However, it is good to remember that when your contract comes up for renewal that the price could go up.

When selecting a package it is best, as usual, to shop around for the best deal. There is an array of options on offer from different providers but it all depends on what you want and how much you are willing to pay.

Some providers will also offer you exclusive content and extras, such as anti-virus software and free wireless routers.

Sky managed to take the top spot this year for best-value home entertainment bundle, just beating Virgin Media, which took second place.

Moneywise readers say that the most comprehensive packages are found with Sky, as it has all the best sport, a wide selection of movie channels and superfast fibre broadband.

MOST RECOMMENDED

WINNER

Sky

Highly commended: Virgin Media

Takeaway booking services

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Ordering food online has become increasingly easy in recent years with the wealth of apps on offer from firms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Once downloaded, with just a few taps of your screen, you can have just about any type of food from a choice of hundreds of different restaurants,   delivered directly to your door.

Just Eat proved to be a winner with our readers, with the firm coming top in the Most Recommended Takeaway Booking Service category, knocking Deliveroo into second place.

One reader said: “Just Eat stands out, as the service and amount of discounts available are excellent and the app is easy to use.”

With over 30,000 restaurants across the UK available on the Just Eat app, the hardest part is deciding just what it is you want to eat.

Moneywise readers were especially happy with the variety of restaurants to choose from and the discounts on offer.

When it comes to Best Takeaway Booking Service for Restaurant Range, Deliveroo managed to take top honours.

MOST RECOMMENDED TAKE AWAY BOOKING SERVICE

WINNER

Just Eat

Highly commended: Deliveroo

BEST TAKEAWAY BOOKING SERVICE FOR RESTAURANT RANGE

WINNER

Deliveroo

Highly commended:

Just Eat

BEST TAKEAWAY BOOKING SERVICE APP

WINNER

Just East

Highly commended: Deliveroo

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