Urgent action required to help vulnerable energy customers

31st May 2019 | Residential Energy

The energy sector must take “urgent action” to better identify customers in vulnerable circumstances and improve and support given to them, according to a new report. The independent report by the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances published today said that, despite examples of good practice, the sector as a whole is not consistently meeting the needs of customers.

Launched last year by Energy UK, the Commission makes a number of recommendations, including roles for the regulator and government, to ensure the needs of customers in vulnerable circumstances are better met today and in future.

Vulnerable Energy Customers

These include:

  • Creating an independently monitored Code of Conduct for suppliers to drive up standards of support for customers in vulnerable circumstances
  • Systematic training for all frontline staff to identify and proactively offer support to vulnerable households
  • Strengthening Ofgem’s licensing regime to ensure all suppliers operating in the market are equipped to support customers in vulnerable circumstances
  • Industry working together to raise awareness and the effectiveness of the Priority Service Register
  • Suppliers ensuring that a range of contact routes remain available to customers, including freephone numbers and paper-based communication
  • Strengthening and streamlining partnerships between suppliers and charities to ensure people get access to all the help they need
  • Households served by heat networks and those using fuels like LPG and heating oil getting the same regulatory protection as those using gas and electricity
  • Retaining a social tariff for low-income vulnerable customers after the current default price cap ends
  • The Government introducing a state-funded energy efficiency scheme for England to help tackle fuel poverty, matching those already in place in Scotland and Wales

Commission chair Lord Whitty said, “Nobody likes to think of themselves as “vulnerable” but any one of us could become vulnerable in a heartbeat. Vulnerability and the need for support is not just a question of customers struggling to pay bills, but of individuals and households facing a wide range of difficulties – any of which can make the requirements of day-to-day living a challenge. A save, reliable and affordable energy supply is such a fundamental need that it warrants particular focus, especially given the stress and anxiety it can cause when there are problems.”

More information available on the website below