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Data driving supplier initiatives to help customers 

Energy UK today publishes the third edition of its Vulnerability Commitment Good Practice report, showing how energy suppliers have used innovation and data to help support customers in vulnerable circumstances. 

The Vulnerability Commitment was launched by Energy UK in 2020 as a voluntary industry initiative signed by 13 suppliers,1 covering more than 90% of the UK domestic retail market. Signatories of the scheme have pledged to continue improving the way they identify and support vulnerable customers, over and above existing licence requirements.  

As the report notes, the last two years have been very challenging for customers, especially those in the most vulnerable circumstances, who have faced record energy bills alongside a cost-of-living crisis driven by inflation.  

With more customers needing more support than ever before during this period, suppliers have also been tested. While these challenges certainly haven’t gone away, the report adds that after full fire-fighting mode in 2022 – when all available resources went on identifying customers in financial hardship and exploring different ways to help them pay their bills and stay on supply – 2023 has seen suppliers of all sizes showing a renewed appetite to find ground-breaking ways to support customers.  

The report includes examples where suppliers have made use of data to support customers, such as the use of dashboards to track vulnerabilities or offering bespoke payment plans associated with Priority Services Register accounts. This report also highlights the different ways that suppliers are collecting data from customer-facing advisors to shape policies, procedures and services which will ultimately improve outcomes for vulnerable customers.  

Steve Crabb, Independent Chair of the Vulnerability Commitment, said:  

“The Energy UK Vulnerability Commitment now covers over 90% of households in Britain, bringing critical support in extremely challenging times for both energy customers and suppliers. I’ve been extremely impressed by the way in which energy suppliers have ramped up the level of support offered to vulnerable customers over the past year, including financial support like additional funding for customers in fuel poverty and innovative ways to signpost support where it is most needed. There’s always more that can be done, but there’s no question that suppliers are working hard to help.”  

Every year, signatories are independently assessed on their performance by an expert panel and today’s guide focuses on good practice under three key themes, challenging participating suppliers to provide evidence that they were compliant with the letter of the Vulnerability Commitment, but also in the spirit to drive continuous improvement.  

  • The role of their Vulnerability Champion: ensuring there is a representative at a board level to discuss any emerging challenges in this space.  
  • Data collection of vulnerable customers: suppliers collect data about vulnerable customers to monitor and observe trends, as well as identify any areas for improvement.    
  • Data collection from front-line staff: data is collected from suppliers’ front-line advisors to improve customer service.   

Notes to editors

  1. 2023 Signatories: British Gas, E, Ecotricity, EDF, E.ON Next, Good Energy, Octopus Energy, Outfox the Market, OVO Energy, ScottishPower, Shell Energy, So Energy and Utility Warehouse.
  2. Energy UK is the trade association for the energy industry with over 100 members – from established FTSE 100 companies right through to new, growing suppliers, generators and service providers across energy, transport, heat and technology. Our members deliver nearly 80% of the UK’s power generation and over 95% of the energy supply for 28 million UK homes as well as businesses. The sector invests £13bn annually and delivers nearly £30bn in gross value – on top of the nearly £100bn in economic activity through its supply chain and interaction with other sectors. The energy industry is key to delivering growth and plans to invest £100bn over the course of this decade in new energy sources. The energy sector supports 700,000 jobs in every corner of the country. Energy UK plays a key role in ensuring we attract and retain a diverse workforce. In addition to our Young Energy Professionals Forum, which has over 2,000 members representing over 350 organisations, we are a founding member of TIDE, an industry-wide taskforce to tackle Inclusion and Diversity across energy.