Energy companies ‘failing’ to support vulnerable families – where you can go for help | Personal Finance | Finance

In its third review, the sector’s support for clients, particularly the vulnerable Ofgem All 17 energy companies in the UK showed weaknesses in their services and required “further improvement”. Ofgem ranked companies into three categories: those showing “severe”, “moderate” and “minor” weaknesses. The regulator assessed five suppliers as having serious weaknesses, including Good Energy, Outfox, So Energy, True Energy and Utilida.

Moderate weaknesses were observed in the services of E (gas and electricity), Ecotricity, Green Energy UK, Octopus and Shell Energy.

Seven companies were ranked as having minor weaknesses, including British Gas, Pulp, EDF, E.ON, Ovo, Scottish Power and Utility Warehouse.

This means Ofgem has identified room for improvement, but there is no evidence of “any significant concern”.

Neil Lawrence, Ofgem’s retail director, told suppliers he was “simplified” and told customers they needed to step up and become “proactive” by knowing what support was available and providing it.

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He said: “From eligible customers missing out on free gas safety checks to companies failing to identify vulnerable customers, this robust review highlights the need for suppliers to do more to support consumers, to provide transparent support on the Priority Services Register.

“Most suppliers take the protection of vulnerable customers seriously and a number of good initiatives have recently been launched to support customers.

“While it is encouraging to see the engagement in this review, some improvement actions are already taking place and we have seen many failings that need to be urgently addressed.

“This is going to be a very challenging winter for everyone and customers need to be sure they are getting the help and support they need.”

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Brearley said it was “pot luck” to approach an energy company for help.

He said: “You can get a good adviser and you can get someone who doesn’t do the necessary things.”

However, Mr Brearley advised people to continue to approach their suppliers for help as Ofgem works with suppliers to improve support for vulnerable customers.

Once an energy provider knows what a person’s situation is, it can tailor the type of support it can provide.

Ofgem recommends visiting the People’s Energy Awareness Campaign website to see what help is offered by all energy providers if you think someone is eligible for the Priority Services Register.

However, many suppliers hit back at the nature of the report.

A spokesman for Utilita said: “Ofgem’s report does not represent where we are as a business today, nor does it acknowledge the significant progress we have made since its initial assessment earlier in the summer.”

Simon Oscroft, co-founder of So Energy, said: “Over the past months and weeks, we have provided Ofgem with detailed additional information in relation to this review and we are disappointed that Ofgem has proceeded on the basis of incomplete information, and now causing unnecessary worry for vulnerable customers.”

Nigel Pocklington, CEO of Good Energy, told Express.co.uk: “Once again it is disappointing that Ofgem has issued a ruling part-way through the evidence-gathering process.

“Despite Ofgem providing detailed information addressing their concerns, it is regrettable that this publication does not take this into account.

“Good Energy has an excellent record of looking after vulnerable customers – including being independently assessed before joining Energy UK’s Vulnerability Commitment, which aims to improve ongoing support – and we will consider our actions later in this report.”

Tara Vyas, director of advocacy at Energy UK, told the BBC: “Our members have responded quickly to Ofgem’s review – including providing further documentation to demonstrate where processes already exist, and will continue to look at all the ways they can ensure people get the help and support they need.”

Express.co.uk has also contacted Outfox and Tru Energy for comment.



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