In response to the Business Secretary’s call on energy suppliers, Energy UK’s CEO, Emma Pinchbeck said:
“Energy UK is deeply concerned by the behaviour towards vulnerable customers that we saw reported this week. Energy suppliers are conducting deep dives into reviewing their practices, and all the major suppliers have voluntarily halted prepayment installations under warrant whilst these reviews happen. It’s vital industry works to fix any issues as fast as possible.
“Energy UK first contacted Government with concerns around affordability and prepayment meter customers in the autumn of last year. We urgently requested that the Secretary of State meet with industry, Ofgem and Citizens Advice to discuss prepayment meters in December, and the Energy Minister attended a roundtable in January. Ofgem has also already launched a market compliance review on pre-payment meters, and there has been a non-inquiry session of the BEIS Select Committee looking at the affordability crisis. Much of what the Secretary of State calls for is already underway.
“We agree it’s important to hear directly from customers. Anyone worried about their bill should contact their supplier to see what help is available. As more households struggle, more people are trying to speak to their suppliers; call volumes have quadrupled and energy suppliers have invested in extra staff, training and services. However, we also know that people don’t always want to disclose vulnerabilities to their suppliers, so industry works closely with consumer bodies and charities, to understand consumer issues and share the most up to date information about the support on offer.
“Two years after committing to revisit the loss-making retail market, so that it could properly invest in supporting customers, and after repeated warnings about a looming energy affordability crisis, the energy industry is still waiting for Government to take serious action on retail market reform. In the meantime, the fastest and simplest way to support people is to maintain the Energy Price Guarantee at £2500, and work with industry on enduring solutions including targeted payment support for vulnerable households, like a social tariff.”