Investigation into British Gas' compliance with obligations under SLC 27.8 with respect to treatment of customers in payment difficulty

Opened:
Nov 2009
Closed:
Nov 2011

Ofgem has confirmed its decision to close its investigation into British Gas' compliance with obligations under SLC 27.8 with respect to treatment of customers in payment difficulty.

Ofgem’s investigation looked into whether British Gas Trading Limited (British Gas) may have breached standard licence condition 27.8 of its gas and electricity supply licences which requires suppliers to take all reasonable steps to ascertain a domestic customer’s individual ability to pay and requires them to take this into account when calculating instalments.

The case focused on British Gas’ treatment of individual customers. Since the investigation began, British Gas made important changes to its approach and confirmed its acceptance:

a) of the core principle of taking all reasonable steps to establish each individual customer’s ability to pay and to take this into account when agreeing instalments:

(i) in all of its interactions with that customer where it is relevant; and

(ii) at all stages of the debt path, up to and including warrant stage and where customers are seeking reconnection; and

b) of the importance of suppliers building and maintaining a full picture of customer circumstances, over time, and refreshing and taking account of such information as circumstances change, and maintaining records of these.

On the basis of the changes in British Gas’s approach, the apparent historic nature of the problems initially examined, and our ongoing monitoring work in this area Ofgem decided to close the case on administrative priority grounds.

Additionally, Ofgem wrote to suppliers to draw their attention to this decision (see link below). Ofgem will continue to monitor all suppliers’ compliance with their licence obligations around debt management and disconnection.

Further details can be found in the decision document.