We are currently updating our consumer vulnerability strategy and have published an open letter on our progress. Please contact CDconsultations@ofgem.gov.uk if you would like to engage with us on the strategy.
What is a vulnerable customer 'safeguard' tariff?
The retail market is not working for consumers who remain on their supplier’s default deal. Our work, and the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation, has shown there is little competitive constraint on the prices suppliers charge these customers. As a result, millions of consumers are paying more than they should be. We are particularly concerned with the impact this has on vulnerable consumers. These consumers are more likely to find themselves on a default deal, and because of their circumstances, can suffer more harm as a result.
We are implementing measures to improve competition in the retail energy market, in particular by targeting barriers to consumer engagement, which should bring benefits to most consumers. However, it will take time for these benefits to reach the most disengaged vulnerable consumers, some of whom may never be able to fully participate in the market. These consumers are suffering now, and need assistance as quickly as possible.
On the 2 February 2018, Ofgem extended price protection to those in receipt of the Warm Home Discount, who may be in vulnerable situations.
When can customers benefit?
The primary measure was implemented on 7 December 2017, when Ofgem modified the standard conditions of the electricity and gas supply licences by inserting a new standard condition, 28AA, to regulate charges for domestic customers who receive the Warm Home Discount (WHD). The main effect of this change was to extend the scope of the existing prepayment meter (PPM) safeguard tariff to protect around one million consumers who received WHD, who were also on their suppliers default tariff. You can find further details on our Default Tariff Cap page for further details.
The protections from the changes to the safeguard tariff began being rolled out after 2 February 2018. On 6 November 2018 we decided that WHD customers’ current protection will be replaced by the default tariff cap, a change that came into force on 1 January 2019.
Customers can find out more about the safeguard tariff at Energy plans: What is the energy safeguard tariff (or ‘price cap')?
Information on the safeguard tariff levels for each region and meter type can be found on our industry guidance page. You can also see a visual breakdown of the different cost factors that influence the tariff level each time we update it on the Ofgem Data Portal.