ScottishPower accused of ‘weak’ customer practice
ScottishPower was facing a double backlash today as the regulator criticised the way it deals with customers in difficulties, and activists prepared a day of protest outside its offices.
Energy regulator Ofgem said the Glasgow-based energy company, together with TruEnergy and Utilita, demonstrated ‘severe’ weaknesses in the way they deal with customers facing payment difficulties.
The trio rank as the worst among 16 firms which the watchdog says “need to make improvements in processes and governance to meet their obligations”. Only British Gas was found to have no significant issues.
Utilita and ScottishPower have been been issued with enforcement notices. Ofgem said: “Given the seriousness of these concerns, Ofgem has already issued Provisional Orders to Utilita and ScottishPower, requiring specific and urgent actions, and the regulator will also consider whether enforcement action is warranted for other suppliers.”
Key findings in the Ofgem report:
- One supplier was found to have no significant issues (British Gas)
- Eight suppliers (Ecotricity, EDF, E.ON, Octopus, OVO, Shell, Utility Warehouse and SO Energy) were found to have ‘minor’ issues
- Five suppliers (E, Good, Green Energy, Outfox and Bulb) were found to have ‘moderate’ weaknesses
- Three suppliers (TruEnergy, Utilita and ScottishPower) were found to demonstrate ‘severe’ weaknesses in the way they deal with customers having payment difficulties, with Utilita and ScottishPower being issued with enforcement notices
Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem CEO, said: “This winter will be challenging, especially for those struggling to pay their energy bills. Although the government’s package of support will provide some welcome relief, it’s critical that, going into this tough winter, energy companies prioritise the needs of vulnerable customers struggling to pay their bills.
“We have reviewed suppliers on how they help customers who are having trouble paying their bills, particularly those who are vulnerable, and found some suppliers have fallen short of the standards Ofgem expects.
“We accept that there are many pressures on energy companies in the market this winter, but the needs of vulnerable customers must be part of their top priorities. We will now work with companies on where they can improve, and I all urge all suppliers to step up to the challenge.”
Trade unionists and activists from across Scotland are preparing to stage a major protest outside Scottish Power head office in Glasgow on Friday over the scale of the company’s profits while consumers face rising bills.
Unite says the “Big 4” energy providers – Centrica, E.ON, EDF and Scottish Power – made a combined £9.5 billion profit in 2021, up 84% on 2019.
Research by Survation for Unite has revealed, 82,633 (13%) of Glaswegians across seven battleground Westminster constituencies cannot pay their household bills this year.