The overarching purpose of the UR’s new Corporate Strategy (2019-24) is to protect and empower all consumers. The first objective of this strategy is to promote markets that deliver effective competition, informed choice and fair outcomes. In delivering fair outcomes for all consumers we must recognise that vulnerable domestic consumers may require additional and bespoke regulatory interventions.
The Consumer Protection Programme (CPP) is our primary means of delivering these fair and equitable results for all domestic consumers of electricity, gas and water, including those in vulnerable circumstances. It is a three year programme which will bring improved clarity, consistency and best practice to consumer protection and specifically target areas that will improve services for energy and water consumers, including those who are more vulnerable.
The CPP consists of a number of prioritised projects which will be delivered, by the UR and through partnership working, including: customer research; a review of how energy suppliers communicate with customers in debt; best practice frameworks to enhance protection for vulnerable consumers (including those who are vulnerable due to circumstance); a review of electricity Guaranteed Standards of Service (GSS); and a review of back billing arrangements.
Another way in which we protect consumers is by ensuring there is a Supplier of Last Resort. The Supplier of Last Resort process is in place to protect consumers in the unlikely event that a current supplier has their licence revoked and a Supplier of Last Resort event is initiated. The process ensures that electricity and gas supplies to domestic and non-domestic customers are uninterrupted and this is embedded in all electricity and gas supply licences. Customers will be transferred from the failing supplier to the Supplier of Last Resort.