The Government has published a Green Paper setting out three principles for responding to the challenges and opportunities of modern consumer markets. Competition has a central role to play, working with regulation in the consumer interest. Consumers should be able to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies and business models, but with effective protections and redress if things go wrong.
The consultation closes on 4 July 2018.
The Government’s Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Act became law on 19 July 2018. Following consultation, Ofgem set the initial cap at £1,137 per annum for a typical default tariff, dual fuel single rate customer, paying by direct debit and using a ‘typical amount’ of energy annually. The level of the cap has to be updated each April and October to reflect the latest estimated costs of supplying electricity and gas, including wholesale energy costs.
As from April 2019, the cap will rise by £117 per annum to take account of rising wholesale costs. Ofgem analysis found that despite the increase,
default tariff customers could be paying around £75 to £100 a year more on average for their energy had the default tariff cap not been introduced.
Doorway to Debt, a new research publication from Citizens Advice, shows that extending the same rules that cover payday loans to the doorstep lending market could prevent their customers getting into problem debt, and save up to £123 million in interest payments on up to 540,000 loans each year.
StepChange Debt Charity’s latest statistics reveal that demand for debt advice is at its highest ever, with many clients struggling to pay bills for essential services, especially younger and vulnerable consumers.
The report of the ESAN Conference 2018 with conference slides and videos of the presentations where available have now been published. Thank you to everyone who attended and special thanks for the BT team who hosted the event. Please continue to share your thoughts of what would really help consumers of essential services on #ESANdebate.
The Banking Standards Board (BSB) has published its annual review. The review includes the results of the BSB’s largest ever survey of behaviour, competence and culture in UK banking that together can determine trustworthiness.
To coincide with national mental health awareness week (8 to 14 May 2017) Wessex Water has launched an animated mental health awareness video. The video, developed in partnership with local mental health charity, Wiltshire Mind, highlights common issues associated with mental ill health, which affects one in for people in the UK each year. The video is part of a range of training materials developed for Wessex Water employees who deal with customers in vulnerable circumstances.
The UK Regulators Network has published a report on how regulators involve consumers in their regulatory decisions, hear their views and take their interests into account.ESAN’s recent conference and report on How can the consumer voice be better heard in the regulation of essential services? is given an an example. The guide includes a visual overview of the processes, broken down by key questions, with examples across different sectors.
On 28 February the Consumer Council for Water is hosting a conference that will bring together utility companies, Government and consumer representatives, regulators and the advice sector in Wales. The conference aims to raise awareness of the help available for the financially vulnerable and explore opportunities to work together to help reduce poverty in Wales. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or register here.
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.