Supporting Vulnerable Energy Customers


November 30, 2022

Supporting Vulnerable Energy Customers

Caroline Thomas
Senior CX Service Designer

Latest OFGEM findings on vulnerability and how FourNet can help

On Tuesday 22 November 2022), energy regulator Ofgem published findings into the third of its series of ‘deep dives’ into how energy suppliers are helping customers this winter and beyond.

Ofgem is committed to driving service standards up for consumers, and, this latest review, which looked specifically at how suppliers treat ‘Customers in a Vulnerable Situation’ has considered information submitted by 17 of the biggest domestic energy suppliers, detailing how the companies are:

  • Identifying and recording customers in a vulnerable situation, and if they are adding them to the ‘Priority Services Register’, which offers additional support to customers in need
  • Making free gas safety checks available to eligible customers
  • Ensuring vulnerable customers on prepayment meters are identified and supported
  • Providing useful information appropriate to customer needs

Since Ofgem’s initial assessment and ratings were formed, many suppliers have already responded positively based on the feedback from the review. All the action taken from all the Market Compliance Reviews so far can now be seen collectively.

Findings showed that, although some good practice was identified, all suppliers need to make further improvements, with the key findings being:

  • 5 suppliers have Severe weaknesses – Good Energy, Outfox, SO Energy, TruEnergy, Utilita
  • 5 suppliers have Moderate weaknesses – E (Gas & Electricity), Ecotricity, Green Energy UK, Octopus and Shell
  • 7 suppliers have Minor weaknesses – British Gas, Bulb, EDF, E.ON, Ovo, Scottish Power and Utility Warehouse.

What must you be demonstrating to OFGEM that you are doing to support Vulnerable Customers?

OFGEM expect suppliers to take the following actions in line with their licence obligations:

    • Consumers can easily contact their supplier and are treated fairly when they do.
    • Customers in vulnerable situations are identified and provided additional support where appropriate. Ensure Priority Services Register data are up to date and shared with relevant parties where required and in line with data protection.
    • Make proactive contact with customers in payment difficulty through a range of communication methods.
    • Always take into account a customer’s ability to pay, including before escalating the debt recovery process. Give due consideration to information from third parties such as charities a consumer may be represented by.
    • Ensure prepayment meters are safe and reasonably practicable in every case and act quickly to change the meter to non-prepayment if necessary. This is particularly important for consumers dependent on a continuous energy supply for medical purposes.
    • Debt recovery actions are always fair and proportionate. Do not escalate debt recovery actions too quickly and ensure third party representatives, such as debt collection agencies, abide by the same regulatory obligations and treat customers fairly

How FourNet can help

At FourNet we work with some of the most secure, critical and commercially driven organisations and services in the UK who support people when at their most vulnerable; we understand and ensure that customer needs and business benefits run hand in hand when designing solutions to solve “real life” problems for you and your customers and not just delivering technology for technologies sake. This has never been more important than now.

Our team of professional CX practitioners have worked across a range of industries for clients of all sizes to deliver real, tangible benefits to both the organisations and the clients they serve.

Find out more about our customer experience consultation program.