Recovery or Ruin? The role of accessible support in helping energy consumers through the crisis
During the pandemic the government and the energy industry have put in place significant measures to support people’s incomes and help those struggling with their bills, which has made a difference to many households. However, Citizens Advice research shows that this effort risks being undermined as we head into the coldest months of the year. With emerging evidence suggesting that people aren’t always able to get through to their suppliers and access support in the first place.
With 2.1 million households behind on their energy bills and a quarter of all energy customers worried that they won’t be able to pay their bill this winter - customer service and being able to access support will be more crucial than ever.
Citizens Advice is calling for energy suppliers, Ofgem and the government to maintain and expand existing support and customer service measures:
Suppliers should ensure customers can get in touch quickly and easily, including by telephone and continue to offer additional support, including payment holidays or temporary prepay credit
Ofgem should ensure all suppliers follow back billing rules to protect consumers from bill shock and update it’s requirements on telephone services
Government should ensure there is adequate support for the hardest hit households this winter, through fuel vouchers or extra funding to support those people not covered by existing schemes like the Covid Winter Grant.