The priority Services Register is used to keep a record of the most vulnerable energy customers. Anyone on these registers will receive support from their energy supplier. Every energy supplier on the market has its own Priority Services Register. The support provided will depend on your supplier. It can be anything from receiving letters in large print, to advanced warning of any planned maintenance in your area. The level and range of support will depend on your individual energy provider and your individual needs.
The register itself relies on energy customers to come forward. Any customer that feels that being ‘vulnerable’ applies to them needs to contact their energy supplier.
After registering the details of your personal circumstances, the energy supplier will assess that information. They will then decide if you qualify as vulnerable. If you do, they will start providing the relevant services. In every case, the services provided under the Priority Services Register are completely free.
What is the criteria to assess if I am vulnerable?
This service is overseen by OFGEM, who is the energy sector regulator. OFGEM has made the qualifying criteria as vague as possible. That is so each customer can have their own personal circumstances fully assessed.
A rough guide to what is considered ‘vulnerable’ is shown below. Because of the reason for this service, it is not exhaustive:
- Anyone of pension age.
- Those with a medically recognised disability, or anyone in receipt of disability benefits is likely to be eligible.
- If losing your gas or electricity supply for any length of time could be dangerous or adversely affect your well-being.
- You are hard of hearing.
- Customers suffering with visual impairment.
- You do not understand English or have problems communicating.
- You live with children under the age of 5.
- If you temporarily require help due to an injury or illness.
- When extra support or help with regards to your gas and electricity supply could help you.
How do I register?
Simply contact your energy supplier and explain your situation. They will assess the level of support that you need and add you to the register. If you have separate gas and electricity suppliers, you will need to register with them both. It is worth noting that if you do use separate suppliers, you may get a different level of support from each one.
When a loss of supply could have a big impact, such as if you use a stairlift, ask your energy supplier to pass on your details to the Network Operator. They will be the ‘boots on the ground’ when it comes to any maintenance or repair work happening in your area. Because you have been put onto the Network Operators register, you will be provided with extended advanced warning for maintenance work.
If I switch energy suppliers, will my Priority Service Register switch automatically?
No. Each time you change your energy supplier you will need to re-register. Each supplier offers a range of services but not all are the same. You can always describe the services you were being provided before switching and find out if your potential new supplier can match them.
What help is available if I am on the Priority Services Register?
OFGEM has purposely steered away from a one-size fits all approach. The aim is to focus more on each individual’s needs, meaning vulnerable customers do not receive services that are unsuitable.
You may have noticed some of the services when signing up and probably never paid too much attention to them. Services such as offering large print correspondence or letters printed in braille stem from this register. An idea of some of the other services offered include:
- Moving gas and electricity meters for accessibility purposes.
- Free periodic meter readings.
- Allowing for a proxy to act on behalf of the energy customer. This gives a trusted family member or friend access to your account to help manage it better.
- Priority help in the event of a power cut.
- Priority reconnection after a power cut.
- Password access for home visits. This service allows the customer to set a password for energy supplier employees. They will provide this on the doorstep to prove to a customer that they are who they say they are.
- Free gas safety checks.
- Knock and wait service.
- Free installation of a smart meter.
As mentioned, each energy supplier offers a different set of services. If you feel that you would benefit from any extra help, get in contact with your gas and electricity suppliers. When you are considering making a switch, contact any potential energy suppliers you have in mind to see if they can meet your needs.