Trade association Energy UK has launched a commission for customers in vulnerable circumstances, to explore how care and support could be improved.
The commission will be independently chaired by Lord Whitty and will comprise commissioners from across the business, charity and consumer advice communities.
In the coming weeks the commission will publish a call for evidence and hold a series of hearings around the UK to hear from a range of consumer groups, representing the elderly and people with disabilities, experts on financial vulnerability and mental health charities among others.
Energy UK will also be developing a new vulnerability charter, separately to the commission, to build on existing voluntary commitments and go further to support customers most in need.
The trade association said the launch of the commission is an important step in an ongoing drive to improve customer service, consumer engagement and to ensure energy suppliers are meeting the needs of all their customers.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “Identifying customers in vulnerable circumstances and providing the appropriate support customers need, and want, is a challenge that is not unique to energy companies.
“Across our society we need to take huge leaps forward in recognising and responding to the impact of vulnerable circumstances. These can be difficult to identify, are often complex, and can be temporary or permanent.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “This commission offers a real opportunity to ensure that vulnerable energy customers receive a better service and the right level of support.
“We’ve long argued that energy companies should do more to support their customers in vulnerable circumstances. All too often, these are customers who are paying over the odds for their energy and are treated poorly by their supplier.”
A final report on the call for evidence, including recommendations for industry, government and other stakeholders, will be published towards the end of 2018.