UKRN cross-sector project: Making better use of data follow-up report

Correspondence and other

Ofgem has been collaborating with Ofwat and the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) to explore how making better use of data can help identify customers in vulnerable situations across the energy and water sectors.

Last year, we published a report in which we explored how companies can make better use of data and work towards sharing non-financial vulnerability data across sectors and set expectations for companies on how we'd like to see them move forward with this work.  We said that:

•Water and energy companies should explore cross-sector non-financial vulnerability data sharing.

•They should continue to work together and collaborate with third parties to support and identify customers in vulnerable situations.

The UKRN has now published a follow-up report, produced by Ofgem, Ofwat and the UKRN: Making better use of data to identify customers in vulnerable situations: A follow-up report.

In this follow up report, we (Ofgem, Ofwat and UKRN) have reviewed the progress made in the last year by energy and water companies against these expectations. We considered the learnings from a pilot project in which energy and water companies in the North West of England gained explicit consent from customers to share their priority services register data and considered the challenges in moving this initiative towards a national roll out in 2020. 

The pilot shows that there has been significant progress towards cross-sector data sharing, but continued progress will be needed for a successful roll-out in 2020. Key challenges include the requirement for effective training of front line staff, technical issues in matching data sets, and data accuracy. Evidence shows that human interaction is key in gaining customer consent to share data and it will be essential that staff across all companies are given sufficient training to be able to articulate the benefits of data sharing and maintain enthusiasm ahead of national roll out. 

There is evidence of ongoing collaboration between water and energy companies but there is still considerable scope for companies to go further in working collaboratively and across-sector, including working more with trusted charities and local partners and considering and adopting best practice from other sectors.

The report also sets out the next steps that industry need to take to continue making progress to benefit their customers in vulnerable situations. Regulators will continue to explore what further help is needed for customers in vulnerable situations and how collaborating on utilising data can support these customers.