Spending watchdog urges regulators to up their game for vulnerable customers

The National Audit Office (NAO) has told Ofwat, Ofgem, Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority to work together more closely and to do more to support vulnerable customers in their industries.

While the NAO acknowledged the regulators – both individually and together under the auspices of the UK Regulators Network – had made improvements, it found many shortfalls and inconsistencies in their approaches. These included:

  • Little quantification of the impact of vulnerability, or how it is changing over time.

  • Conflict between regulators’ duties to help vulnerable customers and their duties to promote more general consumer interests.

  • Insufficient interventions to protect the vulnerable.

  • Inconsistent discount and support schemes.

  • No comprehensive data.

  • Insufficient understanding of what it costs companies to support vulnerable people.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Regulators and government…need to work closer together to clarify their respective responsibilities if overall support for vulnerable consumers is to be value for money.”