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Priority Services Register for vulnerable energy customers

Priority Services Register for vulnerable energy customers

The Priority Services Register was recently broadened by Ofgem to help as many vulnerable energy customers as possible. Find out if it could help you with this guide from uSwitch.

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What is the Priority Services Register?

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free and voluntary system that your supplier uses to ensure the correct support is given to its most vulnerable customers.

It is a system designed and overseen by Ofgem to better ensure that individuals with special requirements have access to additional support from their energy supplier as and when they require it.

This support varies by supplier and by an individual’s circumstances, but can include:

  • Large-format or Braille bills
  • Advanced notice of service interruption
  • Priority in a power cut
  • Quarterly meter readings
  • Yearly gas safety checks
  • Meter relocation for better access

Changes to the Priority Services Register

Changes to how the PSR works, introduced in 2017, mean that energy customers with vulnerabilities are now more easily identified and better tracked if they choose to switch their energy supplier.

The new system is now more inclusive in that it takes into account that vulnerability is more about a customer’s circumstances than their individual characteristics.

Families with children of five or younger are automatically considered among the core group to receive available support. The changes to the Priority Services Register also extend to those in other vulnerable positions, including those with mental health issues or injuries that will affect them temporarily.

Who can sign up for the Priority Services Register?

Ofgem made changes to broaden the Register's eligibility to ensure that people are considered based on their circumstances — not just a list of characteristics.

Previously, only aspects like age and disability were considered; but now, customers simply need to identify themselves to the supplier, who will then assess their circumstances and offer appropriate available services to suit them.

This is good news as more consumers will get the assistance they need, but it means there is not a definitive set of rules to check your eligibility against.

However, generally, you could be eligible for the Priority Services Register if:

  • You need to be supported in a particular way
  • You would struggle to maintain your well-being if you lost your energy supply for any amount of time
  • You’re of pensionable age
  • You are disabled
  • You are chronically ill or have a long-term medical condition
  • You have hearing or visual impairment or other communication needs
  • You have children under the age of five living with you
  • You have a mental health condition that causes you difficulty in understanding your bill
  • You cannot top up your pre-payment meter due to injury
  • You need extra support due to temporary circumstances

What kind of help is given to vulnerable customers?

This will vary based on your needs and your supplier. We’ve collected information from some of the bigger suppliers, so you can get an idea what your supplier might offer to you.

  • SSE

    SSE's Priority Services Register services include:

    • A ‘knock and wait’ service, which gives customers more time to answer the door, and a password scheme to ensure a visitor is an SSE colleague
    • Bills in adapted formats such as large print, Braille and audio
    • Arranging for an authorised friend or family member to act on a customer's behalf for easier account management
    • Additional services to allow customers to communicate directly with SSE if English is not their primary language or if they use British Sign Language
    • Priority help in the event of a power cut if you rely on electricity for medical equipement
    • Moving pas as you go meters free of charge if the customer has difficulty accessing or topping up
    • Free quarterly meter readings
  • E.ON

    E.ON's Priority Services Register services include:

    • Arrangement for your bills to a family member or carer who is looking after your account
    • Large-print or Braille bills
    • Free annual gas safety check for your meter and appliances
    • Minicom or textphone facilities to allow for easy communication
    • Priority reconnection if an energy supply is interrupted
    • Advance notice if the supply has to be stopped
    • Free movement of a prepayment meter if it's in a difficult place to reach
    • Password security on your account to identify that a call or visitor is genuinely from E.ON
    • Free quarterly meter readings for those who have difficulty getting to their meters
  • British Gas

    British Gas's Priority Services Register services include:

    • Supply Interruption Warnings to let you know when you might be without power
    • Free annual gas safety checks if you meet certain conditions
    • Large print, Braille, CD or quarterly call communication options
    • Password and nominee schemes so you can easily identify visitors from British Gas
    • Moving your meters if you can't reach them
    • Quarterly meter readings
  • EDF Energy

    EDF Energy's Priority Services Register services include:

    • Alternative billing formats for those with visual impairments
    • Free gas safety checks
    • Bill nominee scheme so you can let a family member handle your account management
    • Password scheme so you can easily identify visitors from EDF Energy
    • Regular meter readings
  • npower

    npower's Priority Services Register services include:

    • Alternative formats of communication in minicom, textphone, Braille, large print or on CD
    • Password scheme so you can easily identify callers and visitors from npower
    • Third-party account management
    • Third-party correspondence
    • Interpreter service for those whose first language isn't English
    • Knock and wait service to give you more time to answer the door
    • Free gas safety checks
    • Regular meter readings
    • Free relocation of your prepayment meter if you are unable to safely access it
    • Support for power loss or interruption
  • Octopus Energy

    Octopus Energy's Priority Services Register services include:

    • Allowing you to nominate someone else to manage your account for you
    • Installing a free smart meter
    • Installing a smart prepayment meter
    • Allowing you to set a pass phrase to help identify their representatives
    • Help reading your statements and bills
    • Free gas safety checks if you meet certain criteria
  • Bulb

    Bulb's priority services register services include:

    • Third-party account manager if you wish to nominate one
    • Installing a free smart meter
    • Allowing you to set a passowrd to help identify their representatives
    • Help reading your statements and bills
    • Advanced notice of planned supply interruptions and priority for reconnection to the grid
  • ScottishPower

    ScottishPower's priority services register services include:

    • Free annual gas safety check by a fully qualified engineer on request
    • Password service to authenticate anyone visiting the customer's home on behalf of ScottishPower
    • Alternative format bills including large format, Braille, compact disc and audio cassette
    • Nominate a friend or relative to receive bills with the Protected Service Scheme and help ensure they get paid on time
  • OVO Energy

    OVO Energy's priority services register services include:

    • Quarterly meter readings
    • Free prepayment meter relocation to enable easier access
    • Alternative format statements including audio, large print, Braille, and black and white
    • Free annual gas safety checks
    • Duplicate communication to be sent to a nominated third party
    • Provision of passwords for home visitors
    • Longer notice period of planned supply interruption

How do I sign up to the Priority Services Register?

If you would like to have access to additional services from your energy supplier, you simply need to sign up to the Priority Services Register through your current supplier. You can also ask your supplier to forward your details to your network operator if you are dependent on a consistent energy supply for medical reasons.

Can I switch supplier if I’m on the Priority Services Register?

Yes. You simply need to notify your new supplier that you are a vulnerable customer, and they will share their available services with you.

What other help am I eligible for?

If you're eligible for the Priority Services scheme it's likely you'll also qualify for government initiatives to help with the cost of your energy bill. Use our interactive tool below to find out what you could be eligible for:

Read more …

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