We often hear it said that the energy industry is changing, but nowhere more so than the focus on, and protection of, vulnerable consumers.
The Energy UK Safety Net, which sets a standard for how debt collection is undertaken, and the pledge to never knowingly disconnect a vulnerable customer, has been central to that.
Since the Safety Net was founded, the nature of debt and disconnection in the UK energy retail market has changed beyond recognition. In 2003 there were around 16,000 disconnections of domestic customers for debt in the UK. In 2015 - the most recent year for which published data exists - there only around 250.
Signatories to the Safety Net undergo an audit each year to assess delivery against 13 key objectives including having specialist teams to support vulnerable customers, monitoring repayment options so they take into account a customer’s ability to pay and never knowingly disconnecting a vulnerable customer.
Today, the results of the Safety Net audit, carried out by PwC, have been published and show even more suppliers achieving the highest “gold” award – more than doubling from two to five.
In addition, one supplier achieved “silver” which recognises the significant efforts they have made to comply with the Safety Net commitments. There were no instances of non-compliance noted.
It is fantastic news that the number of suppliers achieving the gold standard has significantly increased but the challenge for the industry will be to build on this positive start and by continuing to expand the number of suppliers who are signed up particularly with the smaller or medium suppliers as their market share increases.