Customers

Examining how utilities are tackling the key issues of vulnerability and affordability

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After a bruising week for the energy retail market, in which wholesale power prices hit dramatic new heights, more than 500,000 customers saw their supplier exit the market and a major price comparison website was forced to suspend its energy services, the real fear is that we have yet to see the worst. Adam John looks at where the energy retail sector goes from here.
Analysis
One of the major price comparison services has halted energy comparisons after soaring wholesale costs resulted in suppliers restricted the number of tariffs available. Elsewhere other comparison services are offering a severely limited number of deals, with only a handful of suppliers listed on their sites.
News
A customer service expert has warned utilities they cannot get away with blaming poor performance on Covid or Brexit. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, pointed to evidence that after an initial wave of high satisfaction across sectors, consumers were now becoming more demanding and less likely to be pacified when they encounter problems.
News

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Download Utility Week’s report to discover the factors driving industry pilots of open banking technology to improve debt and payment management in the post-pandemic world.
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Scammers are taking advantage of legitimate green home improvement schemes to defraud consumers of money, industry experts have warned. New figures from Action Fraud obtained by consumer group Which? revealed that the “fear and confusion” resulting from soaring bills is being exploited by criminals to ramp up their energy-related scams
News
Yorkshire Water shareholders have agreed to provide £15 million of new funding to support households who are struggling to pay bills amid rising cost of living. The assistance is intended to help the 10,000 people now contacting the company each month about bill support, many of whom would not qualify for existing means-tested schemes.
News
Ofgem’s proposals to obligate suppliers to ring-fence customer credit balances are “a positive” for Centrica, an industry expert has said. Senior Investec analyst Martin Young talks to Utility Week about the impact of the proposals and the balance of encouraging sustainable businesses while preserving competition in the market.
News
Industry analysts have predicted that the price cap on default tariffs will rise to £2,980 when the next period begins in October. This would represent an increase of more than £1,000 - or 51% - over the current record-high level of £1,971.
News
James Edney, business development director at brand purpose agency Given, describes how the cost-of-living crisis provides a unique opportunity for water companies to engage with customers they have historically had difficulty reaching.
Opinion
Rushing work to improve the performance of energy networks during storm events may result in sub-optimal solutions for consumers, an industry expert has told Utility Week. Western Power Distribution’s Customer Engagement Group chair Duncan McCombie said while he believes the actions proposed by Ofgem in its recently published report into Storm Arwen seem sensible, he has concerns about the amount of time networks have to implement them.
News
The impact of Storm Arwen on telecommunications highlights the risks to energy customers when BT shuts down its Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in 2025, an industry expert has warned. Speaking to Utility Week Andy Manning, principal economic regulation specialist at Citizens Advice, gave his thoughts on the impact of the storm and what this could mean for future extreme weather events.
News
Centrica and Equinor have struck a deal to deliver an additional 1 billion cubic meters of gas to the UK for each of the next three winters. Britain currently imports around a third of its gas requirements from Norway and Centrica said the deal “underlines the strategic importance of the Norwegian relationship to UK energy security”.
News
There is a “huge gap” in the market for banks to offer loans to encourage the uptake of heat pumps, an industry expert has suggested. Andrew Sissons, deputy director at innovation charity Nesta, made the comments to Utility Week following the publication of research into consumer attitudes towards the devices. 
News
Anglian Water has unveiled plans for a "hugely ambitious" wetlands programme, comprising 26 sites across its region that will be used to naturally remove nitrates and phosphates from wastewater without the need for chemical dosing. The plans were announced as the company reported its largest ever single-year capex programme in its financial results for 2021/22, which also included a net penalty of £8 million on outcome delivery incentives after it missed pollution and flooding targets.
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