ESAN Conference 2018

What would really help consumers of essential services?

Thank you to everyone who attended the ESAN conference on 12 March 2018 and special thanks for the BT team who hosted the event at the iconic BT Tower.

You can download the report of the event, prepared by Adrienne Margolis here:  ESAN conference report 2018

Conference slides and videos of the presentations where available are published below.

Please continue to share your thoughts of what would really help consumers of essential services on #ESANdebate

Welcome and brief overview by ESAN Chair Roger Darlington

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Session 1: Horizon-scanning: scene-setting piece on the future context for the provision of essential services
Ageing population, more health issues, environmental challenges, reduced benefits, continued austerity, impact of Brexit. changing nature of vulnerability. Session 1 Sharon Darcy Horizon scanning

Sharon Darcy, Director, Sustainability First
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Session 2: Listening to the voices of consumers in vulnerable circumstances

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Session 3: Choice: how real is it and how is it exercised?
How is market share divided in the sectors of essential services? Is competition currently working for consumers? More particularly, can competition deliver for vulnerable consumers?

Tom Kiedrowski, Cedar Tree Advisory Service

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Linda Lennard, Visiting Fellow, Centre for Consumers and Essential Services, University of Leicester

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Session 4: Switching: is this the answer or another problem?
How does switching compare across sectors? How has switching changed over time in these sectors? Why do consumers switch? Why don’t consumers switch? What more can regulators do to promote switching? What more can comparison sites do? Is there scope for automatic switching?

James Plunkett, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Citizens Advice
Hywel Lloyd, Principal Associate,  Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) See also Keep it Simple report.

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Session 5: Affordability and vulnerability: connections and solutions
Should certain prices be capped? Should there be limits in the variation between the best and worst deals? Are current help schemes adequate and comprehensive? How can we better support customers in vulnerable circumstances? Should there be a register of vulnerable customers? Should we accept that there are limits to how many consumers will switch and how much savings can be made by switching and regulation and therefore look at the case for direct income support?

Claire Milne, Antelope Consulting

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CarolineWells, Customer Service and Accessibility Expert, working with Money Advice Trust

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Simon Crine, Interim Director, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

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Session 6: Digital: what are the opportunities for engagement and empowerment?
How do we ensure that all consumers – including those with vulnerabilities – have the necessary connectivity and skills? How useful are digital comparison tools? Can consumers make greater use of apps?

Aniela Kaczmarczyk, Head of Learning, Good Things Foundation

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Zoe McLeod, Consumer affairs consultant