Ofgem orders ScottishPower and Utilita to protect customers properly

The provisional orders are related to failures over debt repayment plans and lack of support for vulnerable customers

Big Zero Report 2022

Ofgem has today issued provisional orders to energy suppliers ScottishPower and Utilita to address a failure to protect customers.

An Ofgem investigation into ScottishPower found a “number of apparent failings” around the way the company sets debt repayment plans and deals with customers struggling with bills.

A review was also conducted by the energy regulator on Utilita’s practices – it found “apparent failings” in the way the supplier has been dealing with all customers, including vulnerable customers, customers on the Priority Services Register and customers in debt.

Cathryn Scott, Ofgem Enforcement and Emerging Issues Director, said: “These orders to Utilita and ScottishPower are a clear signal to suppliers about the vital importance of protecting customers.

“The rise in cost of living is an increasingly important public issue and we expect urgent and immediate action on the points raised, as well as constructive engagement with Ofgem during the process.

“Suppliers must consider a customer’s vulnerability and ability to pay to a closer degree, particularly with what is likely to be a very challenging winter for many.”

A ScottishPower spokesperson told ELN: “We’re disappointed that all of the effort our staff make to help our customers manage affordability challenges has resulted in this conclusion from Ofgem.   We will now work with Ofgem to implement their recommendations.”

In a statement, Utilita said: “We are disappointed that Ofgem has decided to issue a Provisional Order against us.

“Only a few short weeks ago a senior staff member from Ofgem visited our contact centre and was full of praise for the way we help our customers, of which one-in-three are on our Priority Services Register.

“The regulator has also highlighted our Power Up app feature, which allows customers to self-serve additional support credit when they have no money, as one of the industry’s most innovative solutions in helping customers in financial difficulty.

“The financial support we offer is extensive: in 2022 alone, we will provide financial assistance more than a million times to customers who desperately need our help.

“We are proud of the fact we have helped to shape industry best practice in helping vulnerable households. We have led the way in this space for more than a decade – largely thanks to our early adoption of smart technology and will continue to do so.

“We are deeply committed to supporting our 800,000 customers through these hard times – constantly looking for new ways to help them – and will continue ongoing dialogue with Ofgem to address its concerns.”

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