Citizens Advice response to Ofgem's proposals to improve outcomes for consumers who experience self-disconnection and self-rationing
We are pleased to respond to the consultation on Ofgem’s proposals to improve outcomes for consumers who experience self-disconnection and self-rationing. This is a key area of concern for us. We regularly see consumers who are off supply without access to gas and electricity and consumers who regularly self-disconnect and/or ration their supply.
Our research [ 3.8 mb] last year showed that 140,000 people using prepayment meters are ‘self-disconnecting’ each year because they could not afford to top up. The vast majority of these households that self-disconnected included a child or a person with a long-term health condition. Of those that had self disconnected, over half felt that being disconnected had negative impacts on them, both physical and emotional.
In a fair and modern society it can’t be right that consumers can be left for extended periods in cold dark homes. We have called for Ofgem to set a target to end self-disconnection entirely as part of its Consumer Vulnerability Strategy.
The Extra Help Unit (EHU), our specialist support service that supports consumers in vulnerable situations, receives daily cases of consumer detriment from unmanageable debt repayments after suppliers have failed to follow the Ability to Pay principles. It is imperative that suppliers follow these principles to ensure that consumers in vulnerable situations receive the support they need. In our research published earlier this year and in our response to Ofgem’s draft Consumer Vulnerability Strategy 2025 we have recommended that Ofgem moves the principles into the supplier licence conditions.
Given these concerns, we strongly support Ofgem’s proposals as positive steps towards eliminating self-disconnection and ensuring consumers in debt are better supported by their supplier.
For this consultation response, we have used evidence from contacts to our general consumer service, cases from the local Citizens Advice network and case studies from the EHU. We have also used evidence from our policy research work.