Utility Week

Utility Week 13th October 2017

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Page 24 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 13TH - 19TH OCTOBER 2017 | 25 Customers South East Water Choice has applied to transfer its retail busi- ness to sister company Water Choice. The company has submitted an exit application to Defra and, if given the go-ahead, will make the transition on 1 April 2018 – a year aer the opening of the water retail market. Tanya Sephton, who replaced James Dubois as managing direc- WATER South East Water Choice to transfer retail business to sister firm tor for South East Water Choice earlier this year, said: "It's been six months since the business retail water market opened allowing business customers to choose their retailer for water and wastewater services. "We are delighted most of our business customers opted to stay and many chose to get both their water and wastewater services from us." She said Water Choice, which is part of the group, also offers water and wastewater retail services to business customers across England. She added: "Our next step is to bring all our retail activities under one roof. From 1 April 2018 all our water and sewerage retail business will be done by Water Choice. This will simplify our operations and help us provide This week Citizens Advice calls for automatic redress Charity says customers should have received an extra £2.2 million in compensation last year Citizens Advice has called for cus- tomers to be automatically paid all the compensation they are entitled to when energy networks miss performance standards. In a report, the charity said customers were paid about £5.4 million in compensation by gas and electricity distribution net- works in 2015/16 but should have received at least £2.2 million more. Network operators are already obliged to automati- cally compensate customers for failing to meet most guaranteed standards, but there are two electricity and two gas standards for which customers are required to submit a claim before receiving compensation. Citizens Advice said Ofgem should extend automatic compensation to all guaranteed standards. Analysis by the charity shows that in 2015/16, elec- tricity distribution networks paid out £1.5 million for failures relating to interruptions and customer service – including about £813,000 in voluntary payments – plus £252,000 for failures relating to new connections. Over the same period, gas networks paid out £3 mil- lion for failures relating to interruptions and customer service, and at least £546,000 for failures relating to new connections. Gas networks are not obliged to report all voluntary payments, so the actual totals may be higher. The absence of automatic payments for one guar- anteed standard meant more than 62,000 households missed out on at least £1.2 million of compensation aer their gas supply was interrupted. And electricity networks failed to compensate customers to the tune of £1 million when they also failed to meet a guaranteed standard for interruptions. TG See Citizens Advice column, p28 ENERGY Vulnerable customer support guide Energy UK and the Money Advice Trust have published a guide to help energy suppliers identify and support vulnerable customers. The guide, Vulnerability, Men- tal Health and the Energy Sector, aims to help frontline staff deal with customers in vulnerable situations. It also includes guid- ance on helping consumers with mental health problems. Ofgem's recently updated domestic standards of conduct require gas and electricity sup- pliers to better identify consum- ers in vulnerable situations. Energy UK chief executive Lawrence Slade said the guide is an "important step forward". Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said it is "positive to see the energy sector proactively working to improve the support they pro- vide customers". WATER Ofwat to report on customer support Ofwat has said that it will pub- licly report on how each water company plans to help custom- ers in vulnerable circumstances for the first time as part of its forthcoming price review, PR19. The regulator said it would report on how companies "serve, support and protect" such customers and show which com- panies are "leading the field". Ofwat argues that "as much as half the population" will at some point find themselves in circumstances, such as illness or bereavement, that may make them temporarily vulnerable. The price review process will require water companies to say in their overall business plans what they intend to do to sup- port vulnerable customers. This is the first time Ofwat has asked companies to detail specific actions to identify customers in vulnerable circum- stances, as well as understand and deliver against their needs. ENERGY Derby council sets up energy company Derby City Council is the latest local authority to launch its own energy company – Ram Energy. The company was launched in partnership with Nottingham City Council's Robin Hood Energy and will be available to residents with a Midlands postcode. There will be an introduc- tory offer for all new customers within the first three months, with discounts for credit accounts managed online. Ram Energy will also be available to pay-as-you-go cus- tomers, who will have new smart meters installed, enabling them to top up online and by phone, as well as with key cards. Ram Energy has been backed by Derby's largest employers – including Rolls-Royce, Bombar- dier and Toyota UK – who will promote it to their staff. Service issue: not all payouts are automatic a more efficient service and an improved customer experience. South East Water Choice is the business retail division of South East Water. It supplies 55,000 businesses in Kent, Sussex, Sur- rey, Berkshire and Hampshire. Water Choice, a new retailer in the business retail market, offers water supply and waste- water removal to businesses throughout England.

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