According to a review, all but one of the UK’s energy providers need to make changes to fulfill their obligations to help customers who are having financial difficulties.
The energy regulator criticized three suppliers, TruEnergy, Utilita, and ScottishPower, for having “severe weaknesses” in how they assist struggling customers after conducting a thorough market review.
Ofgem served provisional enforcement orders to ScottishPower, which has more than 4.4 million customers, and Utilita, which has 1.4 million.
As a result, they must act quickly to address concerns raised by the regulator, who noted that ScottishPower’s repayment plans need improvement and Utilita’s “lack of support for vulnerable customers.”
Meanwhile, it was discovered that five suppliers, E, Good, Green Energy, Outfox, and Bulb, had “moderate” weaknesses.
Additionally, eight energy providers—Ecotricity, EDF, E.On, Octopus, OVO, Shell, UW, and SO/ESB—demonstrated “minor” difficulties in identifying customers who might have financial difficulties in paying their bills.
British Gas was found to be the only supplier without any serious problems.
According to Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, “This winter will be difficult, especially for those struggling to pay their energy bills.”
“Energy companies must prioritize the needs of vulnerable customers who are having a hard time paying their bills as we head into this harsh winter, even though the government’s package of assistance will offer some much-needed relief.”
“We have examined suppliers’ assistance programs for bill-paying customers, particularly the most vulnerable ones, and discovered that some of them fall short of the standards Ofgem expects.
We acknowledge that energy companies are under a lot of market pressure this winter, but their top priorities must include meeting the needs of vulnerable customers.
“We will now work with businesses to identify areas for improvement, and I urge all suppliers to rise to the occasion.”
Energy suppliers’ assistance for customers experiencing payment difficulties was examined by Ofgem’s Market Compliance Review, which found industry-wide weaknesses or failings ranging from minor to severe.
The energy regulator has conducted a number of reviews in recent months to make sure suppliers are adhering to the operating license requirements.
We have reached out to ScottishPower, Utilita, and TruEnergy for comments.