Consumer Vulnerability Strategy

We launched our Consumer Vulnerability Strategy in 2013. It builds on the earlier work of our Social Action Plan and Social Action Strategy.

What is the Ofgem Consumer Vulnerability Strategy?

Our strategy has two roles:

  • To guide Ofgem’s approach to understanding vulnerability – through evidence, research and market analysis – to help us set our priorities, develop and implement interventions and assess their effectiveness.
  • To guide our expectations of supply and distribution companies to embed consideration of consumer vulnerability when they design and deliver products and services.

How we define Vulnerability

While we recognise that any consumer can face detriment in a market, our work under the strategy focuses on those consumers in vulnerable situations who are most in need of protection or support. 

We define vulnerability as when a consumer’s personal circumstances and characteristics combine with aspects of the market to create situations where they are: 

  • significantly less able than a typical consumer to protect or represent his or her interests in the energy market 
  • significantly more likely than a typical consumer to suffer detriment, or that detriment is likely to be more substantial

Ofgem’s current focus

To help protect and empower consumers in vulnerable situations, we are focusing our activities in the following areas. Select a link to find out more and to see our associated publications

We are also looking at how we could introduce a broad, enforceable vulnerability principle into the domestic supply licence. This contributes to Ofgem’s work on the Future of retail regulation, where we’ve committed over time to rely more on general principles over prescriptive rules about how companies should run their businesses. This flexibility will allow us to place a greater focus on consumer outcomes over complex and prescriptive rules.

We also report on suppliers’ social obligations annually, for example in areas of debt and disconnection. We use this data to ensure our work is based on robust evidence.

Publications and updates

  • Published: 1st Oct 2015
  • News and blogs
  • 1 Associated documents
Read about the top 10 ways we made a positive difference for vulnerable consumers since we published our Consumer Vulnerability Strategy in 2013.

  • Published: 23rd Sep 2015
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
As the Competent Authority we are responsible for certifying ADR entities in the energy sector. Today we have appointed Ombudsman Services as an ADR entity for the energy sector.

  • Published: 22nd Sep 2015
  • Reports & plans
  • 1 Associated documents
The report outlines our impact for consumers in vulnerable situations since we published our Strategy in 2013. It covers our updated approach and work plan, including the work of Ofgem E-Serve, on fuel poverty and vulnerability.

  • Published: 18th Dec 2014
  • Agendas, minutes and presentations
  • 1 Associated documents
The slide pack have been updated for the 2014-15 Energy Best Deal campaign.

  • Published: 5th Nov 2014
  • Open letters & correspondence
  • 0 Associated documents
New research finds energy advice provided through the Warm Home Discount is delivering warmer homes, better finances and peace of mind for vulnerable consumers.

  • Published: 4th Jul 2013
  • Decisions
  • 34 Associated documents
Ofgem has created a new Consumer Vulnerability Strategy to guide our work on identifying and tackling consumer vulnerability in the energy market and to guide our expectations of the energy companies.

  • Published: 28th Sep 2012
  • Closed: 3rd Dec 2012
  • Consultations & responses
  • 18 Associated documents
This consultation paper outlines Ofgem’s proposals for a new Consumer Vulnerability Strategy and sets out a proposed annual work plan for 2013/14 aimed at helping to protect consumers in vulnerable positions.

  • Published: 21st Apr 2008
  • Reports & plans
  • 1 Associated documents
This document is qualitative research conducted with vulnerable customers to be explore switching behaviour

  • Published: 29th Jun 2007
  • Decisions
  • 2 Associated documents
In 2005 we launched our Social Action Strategy. This update provides an overview of our progress in 2006/2007 and sets out a new programme of work for 2007/2008.

  • Published: 14th Sep 2006
  • Reports & plans
  • 1 Associated documents
See the social action strategy update - September 2006