En­ergy in­dus­try to in­ves­ti­gate better stan­dards for vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS -

THE en­ergy in­dus­try is to in­ves­ti­gate how it can im­prove its stan­dards of care and sup­port for vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers.

Trade as­so­ci­a­tion En­ergy UK has launched a new in­de­pen­dently-chaired com­mis­sion which will hold hear­ings across the UK over the com­ing months to hear from con­sumer, el­derly, dis­abil­ity and men­tal health groups as well as ex­perts on fi­nan­cial vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

It will con­sider how vul­ner­a­bil­ity af­fects a cus­tomer’s abil­ity to en­gage with the en­ergy mar­ket and how sup­pli­ers, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and reg­u­la­tor Ofgem con­trib­ute to care and sup­port for those in vul­ner­a­ble cir­cum­stances.

A fi­nal re­port with rec­om­men­da­tions will be re­leased to­wards the end of this year.

En­ergy UK said the com­mis­sion was an im­por­tant next step in its ef­forts to im­prove cus­tomer ser­vice and to en­sure sup­pli­ers were meet­ing the needs of all their cus­tomers.

Last year a study by Ofgem of vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers in the en­ergy mar­ket con­cluded that their ex­pe­ri­ences con­tin­ued to “vary widely” and urged the in­dus­try to “drive up stan­dards”. Last week Ofgem an­nounced it was hik­ing a price cap aimed at pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble and pre-pay­ment cus­tomers.

Ofgem said it was in­creas­ing the level of its safe­guard tar­iff from April 1, mean­ing the av­er­age dual fuel bill will rise from £1,031 to £1,089 a year due to higher gas and elec­tric­ity costs.

It fol­lowed the reg­u­la­tor ex­tend­ing its safe­guard tar­iff to al­most one mil­lion vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers on Fe­bru­ary 2, tak­ing the to­tal num­ber of house­holds pro­tected by the en­ergy tar­iff to more than 5 mil­lion. The com­mis­sion’s chair­man, Lord Whitty, said: “Vul­ner­a­bil­ity of all kinds present a range of chal­lenges for the en­ergy in­dus­try and I’m pleased to have the op­por­tu­nity to take on the role of chair­man of the new com­mis­sion to ex­plore how en­ergy sup­pli­ers, and wider sec­tors both pub­lic and pri­vate, can best serve, sup­port and pro­tect cus­tomers in vul­ner­a­ble cir­cum­stances.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with all con­cerned to progress this vi­tal work, and to build on the hard work and progress made so far by the en­ergy sec­tor.”

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