Vulnerability Commission announces panel and publishes Call for Evidence
- Lord Whitty, independent Chair of the Commission, announces appointment of five Commissioners
- Call for Evidence published today to gather 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
Five commissioners have today been announced to the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances. These are Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, Simon Crine, Director at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Caroline Wells, co-founder of the disabled access review website MeIncluded, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age and Audrey Gallacher, Director of Retail Energy Supply at Energy UK.
The Commission also today published a Call for Evidence inviting submissions from a wide range of organisations – such as charities and businesses that have experience working directly with people in vulnerable circumstances - to help the Commissioners identify the full range of issues as well as highlighting good practise within the energy and other sectors.
Over the course of 2018, the Commission will also hold a series of hearings around the UK with consumer groups, those representing the elderly and people with disabilities, experts on financial vulnerability and mental health charities among others.
Chair of the Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances, Lord Whitty, said:
“I’m delighted to welcome such high calibre individuals onto the Commission. The range of experience and expertise they bring will make a huge contribution as we start work on this vitally important project.
“Identifying and helping those in vulnerable circumstances is a complex and challenging issue for the energy industry and for front line suppliers in other sectors. Financial difficulties, disability, physical and mental health problems and life changing events can put any of us in that situation – either temporarily or over the longer term.
“I would urge all organisations and stakeholders with views on this important and complex subject to submit their evidence and views for the panel of Commissioners to consider. The energy sector has made significant progress but there is much more to do and we will be using our findings to challenge the industry on where it can go further .”
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Notes to editors
- For more information on the Commission, including the Call for Evidence, visit the Energy UK website The deadline for submitting evidence is Wednesday 30 May 2018. Dates and locations of the hearings will be announced in due course.
- The launch of the Commission - and appointment of Lord Whitty as independent Chair - was announced in February.
- The Commission was brought together by Energy UK to explore how standards of care and support for customers in vulnerable circumstances could be improved.
- 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.
Commission members’ biographies
Lord (Larry) Whitty had an early career in the aerospace industry, the civil service and with the GMB (then GMWU) trade union. He then became General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1985 to 1994. He became a peer in 1996 and served as junior Minister from 1997 – Minister of Transport in DETR and Minister for Agriculture, Energy Efficiency and Environment in Defra. After leaving the government in 2005 he became chair of the National Consumer Council (later Consumer Focus) from 2006-2012. He has also served on the Boards of the Environment Agency and Ofwat, and as chair of various charities on Fuel Poverty and on Road Safety. He is currently a member of the House of Lords EU Select Committee and Chair of the Sub Committee on the Internal Market. He is also honorary President of Environment Protection UK and Chair of the Smith Institute and a Vice President of the LGA and of the Chartered Trading standards Institute. His main interests are environment, consumer affairs, energy, housing, employment and Europe.
Joanna has been Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust since 2006 and was awarded an OBE in 2010 for services to people in debt. The Trust helps over one million people a year manage their debts via National Debtline and Business Debtline, and via its training services branded Wiseradviser. Previously, Joanna was Executive Director at the British Bankers’ Association running their policy department for personal and small business customers. Before that she was a House of Commons researcher and prior to that a primary school teacher. Joanna is on the Board of UK Finance as the consumer representative, a member of the advisory panel of the Commission for Financial Inclusion, the ABCUL/Lloyds Banking Group Grants Committee, H M Treasury’s Home Finance Forum, the Advisory Board at Birmingham University's Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management and served as the chair of the BBA’s Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce. She is also Vice-Chair of the Friends Provident Foundation and a Chartered Director.
Simon is currently a Director at the Money and Mental Health Policy Unit, having previously been at Ofgem where he was Director of Communications from 2014-2017, and the national TV switchover campaign (Director of Corporate Affairs from 2006-12). Simon’s freelance work has included advising the board of the UK Statistics Authority and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. Simon has worked in the public, private and not for profit sectors and early in his career worked in a number of campaigning roles including the Fabian Society, the National Campaign for the Arts and the Low Pay Unit.
Caroline has over two decades of strategic and operational leadership, and a deep-rooted knowledge of the financial services sector and what makes for a good customer experience. Formerly head of outreach and customer insight at the Financial Ombudsman Service, in 2017 she set up her consultancy Different Petal and co-founded MeIncluded, a disabled access review website. Outside of that, Caroline also holds a number of advisory roles, including; National Centre for Diversity, Money and Mental Health Advisory Board, The Money Advice Trust and Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.
Janet Morrison is Chief Executive of Independent Age, a dynamic national older people's charity which is a thought leader on ageing and provides information, advice and friendship support to older people, their families and carers. She is a founder member of the Campaign to End Loneliness - a coalition of over 10,000 organisations which raises awareness of loneliness in old age and what works to address it. Janet is also Chair of the Baring Foundation, an independent grant making trust which funds strengthening the voluntary sector, arts and older people and international development. She is also a Director of Reconnections, a pilot social finance initiative (SIB) to tackle loneliness amongst older people, and a member of Big Society Capital Advisory Board. Janet was previously Deputy Chief Executive of NESTA - the National Endowment for Science Technology which promotes creativity and innovation in the UK. Prior to NESTA, Janet was senior adviser on UK Policy at the BBC and before that was Director of Policy and Research at NCVO.
Audrey is Director of Retail Energy Supply at Energy UK. Audrey has an extensive background in the energy sector, initially with the regulator Ofgem as Head of Consumer Affairs in Scotland. She moved into energy consumer advocacy in 2000 when she became National Director in Scotland for energywatch, before moving to lead its GB work on company performance, research and advice. More recently she has held Director of Energy positions with the statutory watchdog, Consumer Futures and at the charity Citizens Advice.