Ofgem regularly takes measures to protect consumers from overly costly energy bills and today, the regulator has unveiled its latest plans to ensure people don’t struggle as coronavirus rages on. New protections will be put in place which will force suppliers to provide more support for customers who struggle to pay their energy bills.
“The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter.
“Alongside our wider programme of support for vulnerable customers, Ofgem has also capped and reduced default tariffs so these customers always pay a fair price for their energy.”
As the regulator noted, they have already set into motion various support schemes for the pandemic and this was noted and commended by Uswitch.com.
Richard Neudegg, the head of regulation at the company, responded to Ofgem’s announcement: “Ofgem acted quickly during lockdown to protect customers who were struggling to pay their energy bills – and it’s good to see ongoing protections will now be strengthened.
The announcement also caught the attention of various charities and impartial guidance organisations who welcomed the news but also noted additional areas of concern.
As Dame Gillian Guy, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, responded: “This raft of new protections from Ofgem should help more people who are struggling to stay afloat.
“Energy is an essential service and everyone should be confident they can adequately heat their home and protect their health – especially during a global pandemic.
“We’ve been pressing for the measures agreed between government and energy suppliers to help people through the coronavirus pandemic to be extended and widened, so we’re very pleased to see this announcement from the regulator.
“Even with this short term support from suppliers, many people will still struggle to pay for the basics. Government needs to do more to support those who need it most, including making the temporary uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit permanent.”
Similar suggestions were made by Joanne Elson, the chief executive of the Money Advice Trust: “Today’s announcement of new protections from Ofgem are welcome and come at a crucial time for millions of households. These measures, which build on the voluntary agreement between suppliers and the government made in March, should help more vulnerable customers this winter.
“No one should face a choice between heating or eating, and Ofgem’s new protections will help reduce this risk at time when households are struggling through the impact of covid-19.
“I am encouraged to see that the regulator is improving support for customers already struggling by requiring all suppliers to offer customers in debt realistic repayment plans based on what they can afford to pay.
“There’s only so much that individual regulators can do, however. The Government’s temporary changes to Universal Credit need to be extended, including maintaining fairer access to Universal Credit for the self-employed beyond November, and making the current temporary £20 a week uplift permanent.”