How can we improve the Priority Services Register for vulnerable consumers?

Our Senior Strategy Manager, Suchitra Hammond, has published a paper considering the changes that could be made to the Retail Energy Code and REC Services to improve the Priority Services Register (PSR) and deliver better consumer outcomes.

In her paper, Suchitra proposes that the REC-governed enquiry services, which cover all grid connected households in Great Britain, could be used to facilitate more effective sharing of data and move the industry closer towards the ‘tell me once’ principle.

Why does the Priority Services Register need improvement?

Energy Suppliers and distribution network companies are responsible for protecting customers in vulnerable situations. Ofgem defines vulnerable consumers as people of pensionable age, people with disabilities, and those who are chronically ill or have children under five. Energy companies must provide certain services free of charge to these groups and have developed a Priority Services Register (PSR) to meet these obligations.

Historically, the approach to developing the register has been inconsistent, with individual parties establishing processes and procedures to meet PSR obligations as they saw fit. Ofgem’s review in 2016 led to introducing a ‘revised needs code’ so that vulnerability was consistently categorised and data quality improved. However, there are still constraints to data sharing that prevent the PSR from being accessible on a broader basis.  This limits its use and means that the needs of some vulnerable consumers aren’t being met.

What is the solution?

In her paper, Suchitra considers the current situation and then outlines three key areas that must be addressed. These areas would be developed and evaluated as part of a new project and inform a subsequent consultation. She also outlines the next steps in delivering that project, including planning an industry workshop to assess the options.  You can read the paper fully here or by clicking the button to the right.

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