Priority Services Register (Energy companies)
If you are of pensionable age, living with a disability, chronic illness or visual or hearing impairment (or someone in your household is), ask your energy supplier if you are eligible for its Priority Services Register.
This provides you with free extra services and may help protect you from disconnection if you struggle to pay your energy bills if your supplier has signed up to the Energy UK Safety Net scheme.
Priority Services Register services might include:
Advance notice of planned power cuts for customers who depend on their energy supply for medical reasons
Priority in an emergency (this could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of supply disconnection)
Password protection scheme to provide reassurance that callers, for example meter readers, are genuine
Bill nominee scheme – customers can ask their supplier to send their bill to anybody (for example a family member or carer) who has agreed to receive it
Prepayment meters – if a customer is unable reach their prepayment meter they can ask for it to be moved
Quarterly meter reading services (if no person occupying the premises is able to read the meter)
Accessible information – suppliers can provide customers with account and bill information in an accessible format, e.g. with larger print or Braille
Annual gas appliance safety checks for homeowners. (If you do not own your own home, your landlord is responsible for ensuring that any gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe)
Suppliers are also prohibited from disconnecting premises occupied by a customer eligible for the Priority Services Register during the winter months (1 October - 31 March).
The Energy UK Safety Net scheme
If your supplier has signed up to the Energy UK Safety Net scheme, they have pledged to never knowingly disconnect a vulnerable customer at any time of year.
Defining vulnerability has to be done on a case-by-case basis by the supplier as each customer's needs will be different.
However suppliers who are part of the scheme have agreed a common definition that provides a framework for assessing a customer's potential vulnerability:
“A customer is vulnerable if for reasons of age, health, disability or severe financial insecurity, they are unable to safeguard their personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household."
Examples of customers who might be considered vulnerable under these terms include households where there is:
An elderly person
Someone who is disabled or has a long-term medical condition and is unable to support themselves or is dependent on medical equipment that is operated by electricity (such as a stair lift, wheelchair, defibrillator or dialysis machine)
A young child.
Suppliers may also work with charities and support agencies when they identify signs of vulnerability in a household.