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Good practice guide

20 January 2017

Good practice guide: how energy suppliers can signpost and refer vulnerable consumers to the right source of help [ 410 kb]

Some consumers may need independent advice or help with a matter that their energy supplier can’t deal with. These problems can impact on the consumer’s ability to manage or pay their energy bills, as well as to engage effectively with their supplier. It could include, for example, complex debt problems, mental health problems or insecure employment. Third parties, such as advice agencies and specialist charities, can help to explore the root of the problem and find sustainable solutions, taking into account the consumer’s whole situation.

guide for energy suppliers

Energy suppliers need to know how to signpost or refer vulnerable consumers to the right source of help. We set out to understand how suppliers approach this currently, to identify good practice, and to share learning in a way that was accessible, particularly for new market entrants.

Our analysis led us to the following recommendations. Energy suppliers should:

  1. Agree a company policy for signposting and referring vulnerable consumers to third parties

  2. Set up clear signposting and referral options to a range of organisations

  3. Be consistent in offering additional help

  4. Allow consumers to access services on their own terms and provide support when needed

  5. Empower customer facing staff to make good referrals

Build relationships with referral partners and learn from each other