To find out, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register for your place at the next ESAN event to be held on Monday, 12 March 2018. BT is kindly hosting the event at the iconic BT Tower. With vulnerable consumers of essential services at its heart, the day is open to all sectors with similar interests in access, affordability and vulnerability issues.
On 18 January Citizens Advice published the findings of its research looking at how energy suppliers could effectively signpost and refer vulnerable customers to third parties, such as debt advice and support services.
The research found that fewer than 1 in 4 consumers believe that their energy supplier had ever offered them help and support, with fewer than one in ten being able to recall being signposted or referred to a third party organisation.
The best practice guide is designed to help energy suppliers signpost and refer vulnerable consumers to the right source of help.
On Wednesday 2 November, 18 speakers and 92 delegates came together at the iconic BT Tower for the ESAN Conference: How can the consumer voice be better heard in the regulation of essential services? “Fantastic speakers, great content, excellently chaired” #esanevent
Ofgem is to begin a new process of horizon scanning. It wants to better understand what is driving system change, the likely impacts on consumers and the implications for regulation. This information will help it set priorities for the evolution of regulatory arrangements. Ofgem has issued an open letter, explaining how to get involved, asking stakeholders to register their interest at email@example.com.
The UK Regulators’ Network has today launched an advisory leaflet to help ensure vulnerable consumers get the help they need to access essential services.
Produced through a collaborative effort between Ofgem, Ofcom, Ofwat, the ORR and the CAA, the leaflet highlights a range of free support services offered by utility, telecommunications and public transport providers.
The UKRN website gives details of how to get braille, audio and large print versions of the leaflet.
Ofgem’s consultation on proposals to improve outcomes for prepayment customers ends 25 February 2016.
The proposals are designed to:
- help PPM customers to access more competitive tariffs
- address the costs consumers can face, ensuring these do not fall disproportionately on those least able to afford them, and
- ensure that PPM customers are treated fairly by their energy providers.
On 17 December 2015, Ofgem published its final proposals for the Priority Services Register, considered integral to its consumer vulnerability strategy. The aim is to ensure that existing services relating to safety, access and communication in the energy market meet the needs of consumers in vulnerable situations.
The consultation closes on 18 February 2016.
Ofgem is reviewing its work on priority services.
Consultation closes 22nd September 2014. Read more here.
Gas and electricity are essential services. Providing extra services to people who need them to access the market and stay safe remain critically important. This consultation seeks views on proposals that require suppliers, electricity distribution network operators and gas distribution networks to:
•provide additional non-financial services to energy consumers who are more likely than a typical consumer to experience problems with communication, safety and supply;
•take reasonable steps to identify people who would benefit from these services;
•share consumer information with each other and other utility companies, using vulnerability indicators agreed between them;
•raise awareness of services, including developing a single cross-industry brand; and
•conduct annual independent audits of their performance and publish findings yearly
Ofgem has analysed differences in price between different payment methods used by consumers following an information request to suppliers in February 2014. It has found that the gap between prepayment and direct debit has narrowed since 2009. Read more here.
Ofgem rules allow suppliers to charge different prices for different payment methods, but only if the amount reflects the cost of providing those accounts. Some larger suppliers do spread some of the costs of prepayment customers among the whole of their customer base. This is consistent with regulations and guidance, which allow for differences. These result in reduced price differences for vulnerable customers, who often do not have the option of alternative payment methods. Suppliers can also charge the same price regardless of payment method, so they can spread the costs they incur across all customers. However, the majority of consumers pay by direct debit (including half of all fuel-poor households) so any change would mean these consumers would pay more.
Customers who use prepayment meters are now charged around £80 a year more on average compared with direct debit customers for dual fuel. This is a significant fall as the difference was almost £140 in 2009. Ofgem is satisfied that across the market the price on different payment methods reflects the varying costs suppliers face in providing them. The price difference for quarterly payment compared to direct debit has remained at around £80 since 2009.
Following an investigation E.ON has agreed to pay £12m to vulnerable customers, after Ofgem found it had broken energy sales rules. E.ON has also committed to compensating any customer that it missold to, including automatic payments to some vulnerable customers.
Read more from Ofgem here.
The agreed redress package reflects the harm caused by E.ON’s extensive poor sales practices carried out between June 2010 and December 2013.
As part of this package E.ON has agreed to:
•Pay around £35 to 333,000 of their customers who are normally recipients of the Warm Home Discount. This redress package will benefit pensioners, disabled and low income families
•Additionally, make automatic payments to some vulnerable customers who may have been affected by E.ON’s poor sales practices
•Set up a dedicated hotline 0800 0568 497 and compensate all consumers that it missold to
•Write to around 465,000 customers it has identified through its redress work, informing them of how to get in touch to find out whether they were missold to.