The Priority Services Register (PSR) licence provisions place obligations on energy companies (suppliers and network operators) to provide non-financial services free of charge for consumers who are in a vulnerable situation or have a certain characteristic (such as a disability).
Reforming the PSR
Reforming PSR arrangements was a key focus area in our initial first Consumer Vulnerability Strategy. PSR licence changes came into effect on and from 1 January 2017. We want the PSR provisions to give companies the flexibility to achieve positive consumer outcomes. To enable this, we have relied on a principles-based approach in the design of these regulations. See the changes we’ve made below:
We introduced broader eligibility criteria for assessing whether a customer is in a vulnerable situation. We want industry to improve its identification of consumer vulnerability, which is why we’re requiring that:
- suppliers take all reasonable steps to identify customers who may benefit from PSR services during the course of their interactions with them
- network operators set up practices and procedures to identify customers in vulnerable situations.
Positive consumer outcomes
We want PSR provisions to give companies the flexibility to achieve positive consumer outcomes, which is why we are requiring that suppliers offer free non-financial services focused on delivering them.
Network operators still have to provide specific services to ensure a minimum level of protection for consumers who are at particular risk of detriment in the event of interruption of supply.
Suppliers and network operators are free to provide any other additional priority services of a similar nature to customers they consider require them.
Recording and sharing relevant data
Companies must record and share relevant data about their customers with identified vulnerability needs within the parameters of wider data protection and/or privacy laws.
Promoting the PSR
Suppliers must take all reasonable steps to promote the PSR so that more customers are aware of the support available. Where possible, companies should collaborate with consumer groups and other third parties to develop customer advice and information on priority services to improve awareness.
For more details on our decision to reform PSR provisions, please see the Decision to modify licences for PSR arrangements.
For more information on network operator obligations for certain customers in specific circumstances, please visit:
See our information for consumers on the Priority Services Register for people in need.
Working with others to solve issue that cut across multiple sectors: Raising awareness of support services
We have worked with Ofcom, Ofwat, the Office of Rail and Road and the Civil Aviation Authority to raise awareness of support services. This included the production of a leaflet that signposts consumers in vulnerable situations to free support services form across the regulated sectors.
Water UK, the Energy Networks Association, and Energy UK announced a joint initiative to signpost one another’s vulnerability support services to their customers. From April 2016, participating water companies will let their consumers know about the free non-financial support services offered in the energy sector and vice versa.
More recently there was a cross-sectoral data sharing pilot project that aimed to share non-financial data to better identify and support customers in vulnerable situations. This project, which included a 14-week pilot trial in 2018, was led by a Joint Working Group established by Water UK and the Energy Networks Association.
The follow-up report reviewed the progress made in the pilot trial by water and energy companies in the ways in which they use data to provide non-financial support to customers who are in vulnerable situations and sets out how we’d like to see them move forward in this work.
Through the publications and update feed below you can access our publications and outputs produced in relation to free essential non-financial support services.