Consumer Vulnerability Strategy: Free essential non-financial support services

We have published our revised Consumer Vulnerability Strategy for consultation. Please contact CDconsultations@ofgem.gov.uk if you would like to engage with us on the strategy.

The Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register (PSR) licence provisions place obligations on energy companies (suppliers and network operators) to provide non-financial services free of charge for consumers who are in a vulnerable situation or have a certain characteristic (such as a disability).

Reforming the PSR

Reforming PSR arrangements was a key focus area in our Consumer Vulnerability Strategy. PSR licence changes came into effect on and from 1 January 2017. We want the PSR provisions to give companies the flexibility to achieve positive consumer outcomes. To enable this we have relied on a principles-based approach in the design of these regulations. See the changes we’ve made below.

Eligibility criteria

We introduced broader eligibility criteria  for assessing whether a customer is in a vulnerable situation. We want industry to improve its identification of consumer vulnerability, which is why we're requiring that:

  • suppliers take all reasonable steps to identify customers who may benefit from PSR services during the course of their interactions with them
  • network operators set up practices and procedures to identify customers in vulnerable situations.

Positive consumer outcomes

We want PSR provisions to give companies the flexibility to achieve positive consumer outcomes, which is why we are requiring that suppliers offer free non-financial services focused on delivering them.

Network operators still have to provide specific services to ensure a minimum level of protection for consumers who are at particular risk of detriment in the event of interruption of supply.

Suppliers and network operators are free to provide any other additional priority services of a similar nature to customers they consider require them. 

Recording and sharing relevant data

Companies must record and share relevant data about their customers with identified vulnerability needs within the parameters of wider data protection and/or privacy laws.

Promoting the PSR

Suppliers must take all reasonable steps to promote the PSR so that more customers are aware of the support available. Where possible, companies should collaborate with consumer groups and other third parties to develop customer advice and information on priority services to improve awareness.

For more details on our decision to reform PSR provisions, please see the Decision to modify licences for PSR arrangements.

For more information on network operator obligations for certain customers in specific circumstances, please visit:

See our information for consumers on the Priority Services Register for people in need

UK Regulators Network: Raising awareness of support services

We have worked with Ofcom, Ofwat, the Office of Rail and Road and the Civil Aviation Authority to raise awareness of support services. This included for example the production of a leaflet that signposts consumers in vulnerable situations to free support services form across the regulated sectors.  View the leaflet on the UKRN website.

Water UK, the Energy Networks Association, and Energy UK announced a joint initiative to signpost one another’s vulnerability support services to their customers. From April 2016, participating water companies will let their consumers know about the free non-financial support services offered in the energy sector and vice versa.

More recently there has been a cross-sectoral data sharing pilot project that aimed to share non-financial data to better identify and support customers in vulnerable situations. This project, which included a 14-week pilot trial in 2018, was led by a Joint Working Group established by Water UK and the Energy Networks Association.

This follow-up report reviews the progress made in the last year by water and energy companies in the ways in which they use data to provide non-financial support to customers who are in vulnerable situations and sets out how we’d like to see them move forward in this work.

Through the publications and update feed below you can access our publications and outputs produced in relation to free essential non-financial support services. 

Publications and updates

  • Published: 1st Nov 2018
  • Open letters and correspondence
  • 0 Associated documents
The URKN project explores how making better use of data can help identify customers in vulnerable situations across the energy and water sectors.

  • Published: 26th Oct 2017
  • Open letters and correspondence
  • 0 Associated documents
The URKN project explores how making better use of data can help identify customers in vulnerable situations across the energy and water sectors.

  • Published: 25th Oct 2016
  • Decisions
  • 7 Associated documents
We have considered responses to the revised proposals and proposed draft licence conditions in our June 2016 Priority Services Register Review statutory consultation. We have decided to modify the relevant licences.

  • Published: 13th Jun 2016
  • Decisions
  • 0 Associated documents
In December 2015 we issued an initial consultation proposing revisions to Priority Services Register (PSR) arrangements. We have decided to formally consult on changes.

  • Published: 17th Dec 2015
  • Closed: 18th Feb 2016
  • Consultations and responses
  • 34 Associated documents
This document sets out our final proposals for consultation for the Priority Services Register (PSR) following our review.

  • Published: 17th Dec 2015
  • Decisions
  • 0 Associated documents
we have published our Final Proposals consultation, which includes a draft impact assessment and draft license conditions for suppliers and distribution networks.

  • Published: 26th Mar 2015
  • Closed: 14th May 2015
  • Consultations and responses, Open letters and correspondence
  • 25 Associated documents
This open letter provides an update on the review, seeks views on additional eligibility relating to certain services and sets out the next steps for the development of final proposals.

  • Published: 26th Mar 2015
  • Decisions
  • 0 Associated documents
We consulted on the Priority Services Register in autumn 2014. We have now produced an Open Letter which provides an update on the review, seeks views on additional eligibility relating to certain services and sets out our next steps for the development...

  • Published: 30th Jun 2014
  • Closed: 22nd Sep 2014
  • Consultations and responses
  • 41 Associated documents
See our consultation on the review of priority services register.

  • Published: 30th Sep 2008
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
This review looks at the number of free gas safety checks offered in the past 12 months and examines how suppliers communicate with their customers to ensure they are meeting the new information requirements of the gas supply licence.

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