Major electricity company ordered to pay £14.9million after failing to help vulnerable customers during power cuts

BRITAIN'S largest electricity network will pay £14.9million to an energy charity fund after failing to help vulnerable customers.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, said an investigation found Western Power Distribution did not meet its obligations to customers on its Priority Services Register.

WPD distributes electricity to households across south west England, the Midlands and south Wales.

It has 1.7million customers on the Priority Services Register, which is supposed to provide extra help to vulnerable households.

The additional services include providing prompt information and advice during unplanned power cuts to these customers.

For example, that could include mobile power generators, hot meals and drinks, alternative accommodation and on-site welfare units.


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But an Ofgem investigation, launched in 2020, found that WPD did not promptly notify customers on its register about power cuts.

That included failing to mention when power would be restored and what help was available.

The probe also revealed that the distributor didn't tell newly signed up customers how to prepare for power cuts.

Some had to wait up to a year after joining before the information was provided.

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This made it harder for the vulnerable customers to plan ahead to make sure their needs were met and access the available assistance.

The issue occurred over a period of five years, Ofgem said.

WPD also failed to ensure all staff visiting the homes of customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances, had sufficient background checks such as DBS checks.

WPD has addressed all areas of concern, changing its policies, procedures and processes, since the investigation.

It will make a voluntary redress payment of £14.9 million to Ofgem’s Redress Fund.

This isn't a compensation fund but the money will go to charities, trusts, organisations or consumers.

Cathryn Scott, director of enforcement and emerging issues at Ofgem, said: “WPD did not meet all of its obligations to provide additional support to some of its most vulnerable customers to safeguard their well-being.

In our view it also took too long to put this right. This is totally unacceptable."

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Thousands of households in need of extra energy bill help can get free cash or vouchers through the Household Support Fund.

If you qualify for the £150 council tax rebate, you might be able to access more support.

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