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.
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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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Following the passing of Energy UK's deputy chief executive, Audrey Gallacher, tributes have been paid by colleagues who described her as a "passionate advocate for energy consumers and an inspiration".
News
Energy customers who do not switch supplier should be protected from the costs of retailer failure, the head of the Fuel Bank Foundation has argued. Matthew Cole told Utility Week that customers who were denied the opportunity to benefit from switching should not be asked to pay for its failings.
News
As the ongoing energy crisis leaves millions of people struggling to pay their bills, Utility Week speaks to outgoing Committee on Fuel Poverty chairman David Blakemore about his frustrations over the government’s failure to find replacements for the committee’s departing members and his concerns over the slow progress in getting the UK’s leaky homes up to standard.
Interviews
British Gas has been appointed as the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) for the 176,000 customers of Together Energy, the company has announced. The move marks the ninth time in a year that British Gas has become a SoLR, taking on around 700,000 customers in the last 12 months alone.
News
Years of neglect around support for energy efficiency measures mean householders are likely to waste £1.5 billion in the next financial year, new research has claimed. The government has been urged to see the figure as a “wake-up call” and commit to genuine investment in helping people improve their homes.
News
British Gas has revealed it is launching its first mass market air source heat pump. Homes in Devon will be the first to have the devices installed and the company says it plans to conduct a nationwide rollout.
News
Installations of smart electricity meters rose by 21% in 2021 to more than 2.4 million, Electralink’s latest figures have revealed. It follows a 27% drop due the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 when installations numbered just shy of 2 million – the lowest number since 2016.
News
The Energy Saving Trust has dispersed £3.9 million collected from energy companies in breach of Ofgem rules to 20 charities across the UK. Ofgem’s Energy Redress Scheme, which is administered by the trust, aims to support energy consumers in vulnerable situations, as well as aid the development of low-carbon products or services and help consumers to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions.
News
British Gas agreed to pay £160,000 into the industry’s voluntary redress fund after more than 42,000 of its prepayment customers were affected by an IT issue that meant some failed to receive their Warm Home Discount, whilst others received it twice over. Ofgem’s annual report into the support scheme has revealed British Gas was the only non-compliant supplier during 2020/21, although there were also minor contraventions by Bulb, Octopus Energy, Utility Warehouse and Symbio Energy.
News
The government is under pressure to find ways to mitigate the pain for consumers of the next energy price cap rise. David Blackman looks at the options on the table and gauges expert reaction on which are likely to become a reality.
Analysis
Electricity switching was effectively put back by five years in 2021, Electralink has revealed in its latest update. Switching in the final month of the year saw a new record low as high wholesale costs forced a plethora of suppliers out of the market, resulting in customers being transferred via the Supplier of Last Resort process.
News
In our latest round-up of national newspaper coverage, questions are raised after Ovo Energy paid £21 million to a company owned by its founder, while soaring gas prices have led to calls for greater protections for customers using communal heating. Elsewhere, a council in Shropshire has promised to put pressure on water companies following the frequent discharge of sewage into its county waterways.
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