Ofgem has announced they will increase protection for customers struggling to pay their energy bills this winter.
New licensing rules set to begin from 15th December will require suppliers to offer emergency credit to customers struggling to top up their prepayment meters. This action will mostly be needed for the customers who are considered vulnerable. This could be because of two reasons; they are unable to pay due to limited funds or because they cannot get to a top-up point due to mobility issues or because of self-isolation.
In order to help reduce the number of prepayment customers who get disconnected after running out of credit, suppliers will also be expected to offer extra prepayment credit for households in vulnerable situations to provide more time while they figure out a way to pay.
Another Ofgem licence rule will require energy suppliers to put the customers who are in debt on suitable repayment plans. A lot of suppliers in the market already have said processes in place, but Ofgem will make it mandatory for all come 15th December.
The new licence rule will also require suppliers to continue to offer their customers the same level of support as they did through the initial stages of the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year.
Philippa Pickford, Director of Retail at Ofgem, said:
“Suppliers have stepped up to the challenge of supporting their customers during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those in vulnerable situations.
“Customers who are struggling to pay their bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible. The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter.”
“Alongside our wider programme of support for vulnerable customers, Ofgem has also capped and reduced default tariffs so these customers always pay a fair price for their energy.”