The water and energy industries announced a new scheme to streamline customer access to priority services last week, as their regulators called on them to do more together to help those in vulnerable circumstances.
Under the new data-sharing Priority Service Register initiative, announced jointly by Water UK and the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and developed with the support of the Consumer Council for Water, a customer in need of extra help will be able to register once rather than having to give details multiple times to different utility companies. The scheme will be piloted in January 2018 in parts of north west England covered by United Utilities and Electricity North West, with the aim of a nationwide rollout by 2020.
Regulators Ofwat and Ofgem support the work, and in a report issued through the UK Regulators Network (UKRN), said there is scope for more cross sector collaboration. The watchdogs said a joint working group established by Water UK and the ENA will report quarterly on progress made on non-financial data sharing, while in spring 2018, water and energy companies will be asked to report on their cross-sectoral collaboration to help vulnerable customers. Later next year, the regulators plan a follow up report, outlining what further action – if any – may be required.