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.
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
Recent changes to the PSR
Recent changes to how the PSR works mean that energy customers with vulnerabilities will be more easily identified and better tracked if they choose to switch energy supplier.
The new system is now more inclusive in that it now takes into account that vulnerability is more about a customer’s circumstances than their individual characteristics.
As well, families with children of five or younger are automatically considered among the core group to receive available support.
These changes must be implemented by suppliers by June 2017.
Who can sign up for the priority services register?
Ofgem has made changes to broaden the eligibility (effective early 2017), which means you will be considered based on your circumstances — not just a list of characteristics.
This means that while previously, only things 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 priority services register if:
- You need to be supported in a particular way
- You need tailored communications
- 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
- You have children under the age of five
What kind of help is given to vulnerable customers?
This will vary based on your needs and your supplier. We’ve collected information from the big six suppliers, so you can get an idea what your supplier might offer to you.
SSE's priority services register services include:
- A ‘knock and wait’ service, which gives customers more time to the 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 you to communicate directly with SSE if English is not the customer's primary language or if the customer uses British Sign Language
- Priority help in the event of a power cut
- Moving the meter free of charge if the customer has difficulty accessing or topping up
- Free quarterly meter readings
- Financial help and support for bills
E.ON's priority services register services include:
- Bill Nominee Scheme - send your bills to a family member or carer who is looking after your account
- Large-print, Braille or talking bills
- Free annual gas safety check for your meter and appliances
- Notification of supply disruption
- Password security on your account to identify bogus callers
- Free quarterly meter readings for those who have difficulty getting to their meters, with plenty of advance notice for cusomters who wish to arrange for a carer to be in for the meter reading appointment
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 recieve bills 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 on-site 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 need to sign up to the Priority Services Register through your current supplier.
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.