Energy UK launches Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances
- Lord Whitty appointed as the independent Chair of the Commission
- Seeking views from as broad as possible spectrum of stakeholders
- The Commission will report by the end of 2018, and make recommendations for industry, Government and other stakeholders
Energy UK is today launching a new Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances to explore how standards of care and support could be improved. The Commission will be independently chaired, and will be comprised of commissioners from across the business, charity and consumer advice communities.
The Commission will, in the coming weeks, publish a call for evidence and will hold a series of hearings around the UK to hear from the broadest possible spectrum of stakeholders – from consumer groups, those representing the elderly and people with disabilities, experts on financial vulnerability and mental health charities among others.
Furthermore, drawing on the work of the Commission, Energy UK will be separately developing a new Vulnerability Charter to build on existing voluntary commitments and go further to support customers most in need.
Over the past few years, energy companies have proactively increased the support they provide to customers in vulnerable circumstances to ensure greater protection for those most in need. Last year, Energy UK set up a dedicated vulnerability group and worked with the Money Advice Trust to look at vulnerability and mental health. A guide was produced to help identify and support consumers and provides practical tools for frontline staff to use with consumers in a range of vulnerable situations.
Launching the Commission today is an important next step in an ongoing drive to improve customer service, consumer engagement and to ensure energy suppliers are meeting the needs of all their customers.
Chair of the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances, 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 Chair 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.”
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said:
“Identifying customers in vulnerable circumstances and providing the appropriate support customers need, and want, is a challenge that is not unique to energy companies - across our society we need to take huge leaps forward in recognising and responding to the impact of vulnerable circumstances. These can be difficult to identify, are often complex, and can be temporary or permanent.”
“The launch of the Commission is an important further step forward for the energy industry that believes strongly in improving customer service and support for all consumers, particularly those most in need.”
“I’d like to thank Lord Whitty for agreeing to take up the role as Chair and to encourage all stakeholders with views on how the energy industry can best support customers in vulnerable circumstances to respond to our call for evidence once we publish it.”
Notes to editors
- Commissioners will consider the different aspects of vulnerability including: mental health, financial vulnerability, health conditions/disability and transient/life events, and how these alone or together impact a customer’s ability to engage with the energy market. Commissioners will also consider how the actions of energy suppliers, government departments, the regulator and other stakeholders impact the overall level of care and support for energy customers in vulnerable circumstances.
- The final make-up of the Commission will be decided by the Chair.
- In the coming weeks, Energy UK will publish a Call for Evidence to seek submissions from the widest possible range of organisations including but not limited to charities and businesses that have experience working directly with people in vulnerable circumstances. We welcome examples from the energy industry as well as from other sectors and industries where experience there can provide important learning for suppliers.
- A final report will be launched towards the end of 2018.
- Guide for energy suppliers on vulnerability and mental health (developed with the Money Advice Trust)
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