Media comment: Ofgem suppliers' obligations

Friday 30 September 2016

Speaking about figures released by Ofgem on suppliers’ social obligations, Bee Thakur, Debt Policy Manager at the Money Advice Service, said:

“We welcome the release of these figures, as well as the news that fewer people are being disconnected from their energy suppliers. We know from our own research that 22% of the people who seek debt advice from our partner organisations have gas and electricity debts – though this figure does not include credit card debts, whereby a credit card has been used to pay these debts. However, while the Ofgem research shows that fewer people are being disconnected, there are still a number of steps we would encourage companies to take to help those in financial difficulty.

“This includes, directing customers to free debt advice services when they’re showing signs of struggling to meet their payments. Companies are in a unique position to do this at an early stage, before customers find themselves struggling with multiple problem debts.

“In addition, if companies are making decisions on customer’s financial situation or ability to pay, we would encourage them to use the Standard Financial Statement format*. We encourage companies to use this format to ensure that they gain the most consistent and accurate picture of the debt problems facing their customers. The SFS will be used across various sectors following its launch on March 17 2017 and will provide a single format for assessing a person’s finances if they are over-indebted. More information on the SFS can be found here.

Anyone concerned with their level of debt should seek free debt advice immediately. The Money Advice Service’s debt advice locator tool can help find sources of debt advice in your local area.