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
- Prepayment meters
- Inclusive markets and off-gas consumers
- Debt and disconnection
- Free essential non-financial services
- Network innovation
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.