Energy UK has launched its Vulnerability Commitment to help protect vulnerable households – and Qa Research played a key role in its formulation.
So far fifteen energy suppliers, serving nearly three quarters of the domestic market, have signed up to the voluntary commitments, which include:
- Appointing a board level ‘champion’ to take responsibility for meeting the Commitment and improving support to vulnerable households.
- Training front line call centre staff to help better identify vulnerable callers and assist them.
- Providing a freephone number for customers in financial hardship where appropriate
- Seeking feedback from customers on whether billing communications are understandable and implementing improvements where necessary.
Qa Research undertook a wide range of in-depth interviews with customers in vulnerable circumstances to ensure the Commitment’s purpose and aims were clear and relevant to their needs.
Among the interviewees were people with long-term physical or mental health conditions, low household income, or were elderly and living alone.
They read through the Vulnerability Commitment, and commented on whether the language and layout was clear, the commitments were relevant to their situation, and how they would feel if their energy provider signed up to it.
Qa reported back to Energy UK, who used our findings to adapt the Commitment based on the views and needs of vulnerable customers.
Energy UK’s Deputy Chief Executive, Audrey Gallacher, said: “The Vulnerability Commitment is a result of our work with consumers and their representatives to better understand what help is needed.
“And the suppliers who have already signed up are sending an important message, which is that we want to go above and beyond existing measures and to continuously improve the quality of support to vulnerable households.”
Qa Research’s Georgina Culliford, who led the study said: “Qa has a long and distinguished track record of working with people in vulnerable circumstances to ensure their voices are heard.
“Teaming up with Energy UK on such an important project has been a very rewarding experience. The Vulnerability Commitment has the potential to make a real and lasting difference to many thousands of people.”