A new programme of research, led by Fair By Design and the Money Advice Trust, explores the issue of inclusive design in credit, insurance, energy and other essential services markets. The Inclusive Design in Essential Services project will publish two reports in 2020 on how regulators and businesses can adopt inclusive design strategies in their work.
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 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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
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
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 15th April 2015 ESAN, Citizens Advice and Money Advice Trust joined forces to host a conference on practical steps towards effective implementation of vulnerability strategies. Over 70 delegates from firms, regulators and voluntary organisations across financial services, energy, water and communications attended.
The theme of the day was practical and designed to be helpful to firms rather than concentrating too much on theory and definitions. Many common themes that relate to all sectors emerged – around the multi-dimensional nature of vulnerability, how a risk-factor approach rather than categorisation can help, the importance of staff correctly picking up on triggers at the first point of contact, staff training, and maintaining excellent links with advice and voluntary sector groups were all key issues. Three firms presented case studies on their experiences of developing ways of treating customers in vulnerable circumstances better. FCA, Ofcom, Ofwat and Ofgem all outlined their developing plans in this area.
A background paper on the relevant issues can be found here:
Presentations can be found here: