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Citizens Advice Response to Consultation on Revisions to Social Obligations Reporting

29 January 2019

Citizens Advice Response to Consultation on Revisions to Social Obligations Reporting [ 250 kb]

Broadly, Citizens Advice supports the review of the Social Obligations Reporting and the direction of this review. In particular, we note the changes to better understand the impact of smart metering.

We welcome the retention of key fields which we use to support our current monitoring of the industry, as well as those we may wish to make use of as we develop new information on how suppliers treat their vulnerable customers in 2019/20.

It is important that the regulator ands stakeholders have a full view of how suppliers interact with their customers. We would therefore recommend that the scope of reporting be extended to consider the experiences of the countries smallest businesses, particularly disconnections. Micro-business consumers on a non-domestic contract have many of the same behaviours and attitudes as domestic consumers of energy. And we are aware that non-domestic premises can be used residences, placing domestic customers at increased risk of disconnection. This review provides an opportunity to incorporate the experiences of these domestic consumers and provide an evidence base on the scale of detriment from disconnection of microbusinesses.

The energy industry is developing rapidly, but accurate and salient reporting will continue to be vital in the future. We would support more regular reviews of the Social Obligations Reporting to respond to these changes. We also support shorter implementation times for reporting changes, so that policymakers have access to evidence more readily.