Ofgem proposes making COVID-19 support permanent

Ofgem has proposed strengthening the package of support that has been provided for customers during COVID-19 into permanent requirements from this winter.

On 29 June, it published a consultation on plans to standardise and strengthen support for prepayment customers and for all customers that are struggling to pay their energy bills. The proposals would see suppliers have to offer emergency and friendly hours credit to all prepayment customers, along with additional credit for consumers in vulnerable circumstances, providing extra breathing space while working out alternative arrangements to pay.

It is also proposing strengthening protections so that suppliers provide extra support to help customers struggling to pay their energy bills from this winter. This would include setting repayment rates based on a customer’s ability to pay and monitoring these arrangements.

Jonathan Brearley, Chief Executive of Ofgem, said: “These permanent protections will reduce the number of prepayment customers temporarily going without energy because they cannot afford to top up. It is always best for customers to keep up with their energy bills if they can. But at this time when many may face financial hardship, these proposals mean those who are struggling to keep up are assured of some breathing space.”