Actions speak louder than words for one of the UK’s biggest energy suppliers, EDF Energy, who have pledged to make sure their most vulnerable customers are automatically transferred to the cheapest available tariff to help them reduce their energy bills.
The move – which comes after energy regulator Ofgem published proposals to reform the energy market, part of which would see companies make switching to cheaper tariffs easier – will make EDF the first energy provider in the country to implement such a much needed initiative. By automatically switching its most vulnerable customers to cheaper tariffs it could potentially see customers achieve a reduction in their 2013 energy bills by an average of £140; that’s on top of a rebate in the region of £47, which is soon to be rolled out to more than 100,000 elderly customers.
Vulnerable customers are those energy consumers who are on a low income and already qualify for the Government’s Warm Home Discount scheme which provides financial assistance by way of a £130 one-off payment to help hard up energy consumers meet the cost of escalating energy bills. The £130 Warm Home Discount is automatically applied to customers energy bills. It’s worth noting that the one-off payment will not affect Winter Fuel Payments or Cold Weather Payments, which are paid out to elderly and low income customers to help meet the cost of heating their homes during the cold winter months.
The Warm Home Discount scheme is available to people over the age of 80 who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. If under the age of 80 you will need to be in receipt of the Guarantee Credit and nothing else. All energy providers have their own rules; some may in fact offer the discount to their most vulnerable customers, even if they don’t meet this eligibility. Aside from EDF, British Gas, npower, M&S Energy, Sainsbury’s Energy, SSE, Scottish Power and Utility Warehouse are just a few of the other energy suppliers who feature in the scheme.
EDF Energy’s most vulnerable customers who pay by cheque, cash or prepayment meter will also be entitled to a 6% reduction on their bills; a discount normally reserved for monthly direct debit customers.
By implementing these changes EDF Energy seems to be taking heed of Ofgem’s warning to force energy suppliers to be more transparent. In addition, the company also intends to send out annual statements to make customers aware of their cheapest available tariffs and highlight the potential savings switching tariffs could help them achieve.
Commenting on the company’s ongoing desire to ‘do the right thing’ Martin Lawrence, Managing Director of Energy Sourcing and Customer Supply said they were proud to be the first and so far only provider in the UK to make sure vulnerable customers were benefiting from the cheapest possible energy prices.
“Over the coming weeks over 100,000 pensioners on low incomes will receive rebates and will also benefit from lower energy prices next year than they would have otherwise paid. We believe this is the right thing to do and follows through on the commitments we made earlier this year to our customers on providing fair prices,” he said.