The British energy regulator stated Tuesday that many companies are not doing enough to help vulnerable customers in winter.
After Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has seen wholesale energy prices rise dramatically. This has led to record-breaking household energy bills. It also contributes to inflation and a squeeze in the cost of living.
The government introduced a price guarantee and subsidizing bills to ensure that the average household’s energy bill does not exceed 2,500 pounds ($2,964) per year. However, this is almost twice the average bill last winter.
Ofgem stated that 17 firms, which make up the majority of the market, need to do more to assist vulnerable customers with the unprecedented rises.
Jonathan Brearley, CEO of Ofgem, stated that “What we are seeing across the board is the need to improve.”
“We have stories of customers who were left in extremely difficult situations. Brearley explained that an elderly man was cut off by the smart prepayment device and left without power for nearly two weeks.
Five firms were identified by Ofgem as having serious weaknesses, including insufficient data and policies, including Good Energy, Outfox, SO Energy and TruEnergy.
SO Energy stated that it takes its responsibility to vulnerable customers very seriously. Ofgem’s findings were based on incomplete information, and they provided extensive additional information. Other companies were not immediately available for comment.
Five other companies had moderate weaknesses such as insufficient training of staff.
Ofgem stated that some firms had failed to identify vulnerable customers who needed support. They also missed out on gas safety checks for eligible customers.
Last month, Britain’s National Grid warned that homes could experience three-hour power outages if they don’t have enough electricity and gas imports.
Ofgem stated that vulnerable customers, especially those who use power to purchase medical equipment, should register with suppliers to make sure that they are on a Priority Services Register. This will ensure that they get extra assistance in the event of power outages.
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