Ofgem have outlined their updated Consumer Vulnerability Strategy (CSV2025) which builds on their previous work to protect vulnerable gas and electricity consumers until 2025.
Ahead of the publication of the finished document, Ofgem are consulting on the strategy and are welcoming your views until 8 August 2019. It’s hoped that these consultations will prompt questions that can then be highlighted in the strategy.
In a guest blog on Ofgem’s website, Adam Scorer, CEO of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), welcomes the updated Consumer Vulnerability Strategy as it highlights energy as an ‘essential service’ that vulnerable consumers can be guaranteed to receive.
For NEA, self-disconnection – when the gas or electricity supply to a property is interrupted due to lack of credit on their prepayment meter – is something they feel needs to be addressed.
At the moment, consumers become ‘ghosts in the energy machine’ when their meter runs out of credit, with suppliers not knowing when a consumer has been disconnected or for how long.
To help prevent energy consumers being left without energy due to self-disconnection, the NEA has put forward 5 questions on the subject:
- How can income become a greater priority as an indicator of vulnerability?
- Shouldn’t suppliers prioritise the installation of smart meters into households that currently have prepayment meters and at risk of self-disconnection?
- What do good smart prepay tariffs look like and how can suppliers be encouraged, or required, to bring them to market?
- What guidance should there be on how to spot and respond to signs of self-disconnection?
- Should there be a mandatory breathing space for vulnerable customers to get them over a crisis point?
The draft Consumer Vulnerability Strategy 2025 is available to download from the Ofgem website.
Who is considered a ‘vulnerable’ energy consumer?
Ofgem define vulnerability as the personal circumstances of a consumer combining with aspects of the energy market to put them in situations where he or she is:
- Significantly less able than a typical domestic consumer to protect or represent his or her interests; and/or
- Significantly more likely than a typical domestic consumer to suffer detriment or that detriment is likely to be more substantial.
What has the 2013 Consumer Vulnerability Strategy achieved?
Since the 2013 Consumer Vulnerability Strategy came into place, Ofgem have helped vulnerable energy consumers in a number of ways:
- Energy companies are being pushed to reduce the number of consumers being disconnected and in 2017 only 17 consumers were disconnected, down from 640 in 2013.
- Eligible consumers have received benefits through the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation. 2.2million consumers received £140 energy bill rebates through the WHD in 2018.
- 64,000 households have been connected to the gas network, giving them access to a cheaper home heating fuel.
2025 Consumer Vulnerability Strategy Consultation
The deadline to respond to the draft 2025 Consumer Vulnerability is 8 August 2019 and you can contact Ofgem in the following ways if you wish to engage:
|Contacts||Meghna Tewari, Head of Vulnerability and Consumer Policy Dennis Berg, Senior Manager|
|Team||Vulnerability and Consumer Policy|
|Telephone number||020 7901 7000|