Utility Regulator Urges Consumers To Avail Of Extra Support From Electricity, Gas And Water Suppliers

The Utility Regulator is urging domestic consumers across Northern Ireland to avail of extra support offered by electricity, gas and water companies, as findings from its recently published Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker 2023* reveal less than five per cent of respondents in vulnerable circumstances have signed up to suppliers’ support services.

Published in April 2024, the report, which is the fourth annual Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker issued by the Utility Regulator, provides a snapshot of consumers’ experiences with electricity, gas and water suppliers.

It also shows that awareness amongst consumers of the special services offered by electricity, water and gas companies to those who require extra support has increased from 41 per cent in 2022 to 51 per cent in 2023.

Other insights from the survey indicate that monthly spending on electricity and gas remains high, with 43 percent of domestic electricity consumers and 42 per cent of domestic gas consumers spending £100 or more each month.

The report also shows that nine per cent of electricity and 10 percent of gas consumers had gone without essentials to pay for energy at least once in the previous year.

Sinéad Dynan, the Utility Regulator’s Head of Consumer and Business Protection explains: “We are pleased to publish our Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker 2023. 

“At the Utility Regulator, our goal is to protect the short and long-term interests of all consumers of electricity, gas and water, and as such, this research is vitally important to our work.

It allows us to measure and track the experiences of domestic consumers of electricity, gas and water over time and to identify areas where they need more support.

“While general awareness around the various support services that Northern Ireland’s electricity, gas and water suppliers offer to those who require extra support has improved, the survey indicates a lack of knowledge amongst the consumers who need these resources the most.

“If you rely on electricity for healthcare needs, you can sign up to the NIE Networks Medical Customer Care Register for additional support during electricity outages. NI Water also provides special assistance during unplanned water interruptions.

“Gas and electricity companies also provide free additional services to customers who need extra support. If you need help for any reason, you can sign up to a company’s care register. These services include a specific doorstep service, and a carers contact service, and information can be made available in alternative forms.

“There are a range of extra support services available, and I would encourage anyone who could benefit from these to contact NIE Networks, NI Water and their energy supplier to find out more and be added to their customer care register.”

Natasha Nicholl Customer Service Strategy Manager at NIE Networks comments, “At NIE Networks our customers, and particularly those who may have vulnerabilities, sit at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make. We are proud of the great service that our employees provide to ensure anyone who may have vulnerabilities is given additional support.

“If you, or someone you know, relies on electricity for healthcare needs, we encourage you to join our Medical Customer Care Register. It is quick and easy to join the NIE Networks Medical Customer Care Register. You can sign up online or call us on 03457 643 643.”

More information on the extra support services available and details on how to sign up can be found at: www.uregni.gov.uk/additional-services-available-utility-companies

Further information on the Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker 2023 is available at: Domestic Consumer Insight Tracker Report 2023 | Utility Regulator (uregni.gov.uk)

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