09 Oct 2017 | Posted In Money advice news

A new guide for energy suppliers has been launched today by the Money Advice Trust and Energy UK to help better identify and support consumers in vulnerable circumstances. The guide, Vulnerability, mental health, and the energy sector: a guide to help identify and support consumers, provides practical tools for frontline staff to use with consumers in a range of vulnerable situations.

Written for Energy UK by Money Advice Trust’s vulnerability leads Chris Fitch and Colin Trend, the guide draws on the charity’s experience of working with collections staff to improve the experience and outcomes for customers with mental health problems and in other vulnerable circumstances.

Consumer vulnerability is high on the energy industry’s agenda following Ofgem’s recently modified domestic Standards of Conduct requiring gas and electricity suppliers to better identify consumers in vulnerable situations. With the number of energy suppliers increasing, this guide comes at an important time to assist energy suppliers in training staff to improve their support to customers.

In addition to covering a range of vulnerable situations, it also includes specific guidance on helping consumers with mental health problems or mental capacity limitations.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said:

“We are delighted to have worked with Energy UK in developing this guide which will help energy suppliers and their frontline staff to better support customers in vulnerable situations.

“The links between mental health problems and financial difficulty are well known and it is positive to see the energy sector proactively working to improve the support they provide customers.

“This guide joins the Trust’s face-to-face and e-learning resources on vulnerability, addictions, mental health and serious illness which have all been developed in response to growing demand for training and resources on this subject. We look forward to further supporting the energy sector in this work.”

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK said:

“Mental health issues can affect any one, at any time, which is why it is so important for energy companies to recognise this significant issue and ensure they are equipped to deal with the needs of all their customers. This 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 that mental health issues can have on a large part of the population.

“This guide is an important step forward for the energy industry that believes passionately in improving customer service and support for all consumers, particularly those who need it most. I’d like to thank the Money Advice Trust for their expertise and the hard work that went in to the writing of this guide.”

The Guide covers four key areas for energy suppliers:

  • Meanings – what vulnerability, mental health and mental capacity all mean and their relationships.
  • Fundamentals – practical guidance identifying customers in vulnerable situations through to support.
  • Focus – specific insights for suppliers on working with consumers with mental health problems or mental capacity limitations.
  • Organisation – what steps suppliers can take to better support staff and develop organisational skills and confidence.

Find out more about Energy UK and Money Advice Trust’s new guide Vulnerability, mental health, and the energy sector: a guide to help identify and support consumers here.