We want a market that is accessible, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of consumers in vulnerable situations. Well-designed company services and tailored support can help ensure people are not at a disadvantage because of their circumstances.
Ofgem is focused on encouraging innovation in the energy market towards achieving positive consumer outcomes. Positive innovation for consumers in vulnerable situations is possible and there are a number of good examples that we have highlighted in the annual Vulnerable consumers in the energy market report.
Protections for non-E7 restricted meter customers
Supporting restricted meter customers has been priority for us for a number of years and remains a priority. We know that many of these customers are particularly disengaged from the market and can struggle with affordability. In our Consumer Vulnerability Strategy 2025, we highlighted concerns raised by consumer groups on restricted meter customers, particularly the lack of affordable tariffs in the market.
The CMA decided to address the issues through the Energy Market Investigation (Restricted Meters) Order 2016 (the Order), which required all suppliers with over 50,000 electricity customers to make all their single-rate tariffs available to domestic customers on restricted meters, without making switching to these tariffs conditional on replacement of the restricted meter ensure that domestic customers on restricted meters have access to information on the switching options available to them
In September 2020, we published a consultation to extend these protections to align with the new smart meter rollout framework and ensure these protections remain in place until the completion of the smart meter rollout, which will help remove the barriers these customers face, we have published our decision to proceed with our proposals and extend these protections to align with the completion of the smart meter rollout.
Through the publications and update feed below you can access our publications and outputs produced in relation to restricted meter customers
We want all consumers, including those with special communications needs and without internet access, to be able to access the energy market and effectively communicate with companies.
We require suppliers to provide communications in accessible formats like large print bills; and we have also set out the principles we expect suppliers to follow when offering telephone services.
Working with others to solve issues that cut across multiple sectors
The joint UKRN- OPG guide to Power of Attorney ‘Supporting customers who do not make their own decision’ was written by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) in partnership with the UK Regulators Network (UKRN), Ofcom, Ofwat, Ofgem and the Financial Conduct Authority and in conjunction with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It is intended to help policy makers in financial services and utility companies provide straightforward and consistent information for staff, which will make the process easier for customers. We encourage energy companies to make full use of the guide.
In 2018, we co-sponsored the Project Inspire: Energy for All – Innovate for All report by Sustainability First, to examine the case for innovation to support vulnerable consumers. Amongst other things the report provided eighteen practical recommendations and a Vulnerability Innovation Flight Path tool to help companies embed vulnerability innovation.
Electric heating insights (off-gas consumers)
In 2015 we conducted analysis to investigate if households using electric heating rather than gas heating face higher costs and if consumers who are not connected to the gas grid are disadvantaged. Through the publications and update feed below you can access our publications and outputs produced in relation to Energy Best Deal, inclusive markets and off-gas consumers.