Ofgem is to introduce new licence rules for suppliers designed to support vulnerable customers.
From 15 December, suppliers will need to offer emergency credit to struggling customers to top up their prepayment meter, Ofgem said, citing circumstances such as being unable to get to a local shop due to self-isolation or mobility issues.
Suppliers will also have to offer extra prepayment credit for households in vulnerable circumstances to provide more breathing space while working out alternative arrangements to pay. And on that note, suppliers will need to put customers in debt on realistic and sustainable repayment plans.
This follows on from emergency measures being brought in in March to help protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Ofgem stating the new licence rules will require suppliers to offer “extra protection”.
Philippa Pickford, director of retail at Ofgem, praised suppliers for having “stepped up to the challenge” or supporting customers during this time.
“Customers who are struggling to pay their bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible. The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter.”
The supply market is itself going through a tumultuous period, with the likes of Tonik Energy going bust. Other suppliers have also struggled, with Robin Hood Energy's customer base sold on to Centrica and Bristol Energy's sold on to Together Energy.