Vulnerable households can get extra support if energy is cut off – how to sign up

LBC caller says he will 'go hungry' this winter as energy bills go up

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Vulnerable households across Britain are being encouraged to sign up for the Priority Services Register (PSR), a free support service to help people in the cases of power cuts and energy emergencies. Energy suppliers and network operators offer the service, and each keeps its own register.

By signing up to the register, households will gain access to a wealth of priority support during power cuts and other energy emergencies.

According to Ofgem, the support includes:

  • Advance notice of planned power cuts. For those who rely on energy supply for medical reasons, respective network operators can inform those on the register of planned power cuts, such as planned engineering work.
  • Priority support in an emergency. Network operators could provide heating and cooking facilities if registrants are cut off from supply.
  • Identification and password scheme. This could include arranging a password or agreed-on picture cards if callers need to visit or contact.
  • Nominee scheme. People can nominate a trusted contact to receive communications and bills from their supplier
  • Help with prepayment meter access, such as moving a meter if it can’t safely be reached to top it up.
  • Regular meter reading services in the instance that nobody can read the meter.
  • Accessible information, such as providing account information and bills in large print or braille.

Suppliers and network operators could also offer other means of support in addition to the above. For example, UK Power Networks also offers customers hot drinks, hot meals, a wifi connection and charge points during ‘complex’ power cuts, as well as free overnight hotel stays in certain scenarios.

People can find out what their respective energy suppliers offer by getting in contact and asking.

Who is eligible to sign up?

To be eligible for the service, individuals must:

  • Have reached state pension age
  • Are disabled or have a long-term medical condition
  • Are recovering from an injury

  • Have a hearing or sight condition
  • Have a mental health condition
  • Are pregnant or have young children
  • Have additional communication needs (such as not speaking or reading English well)

However, people may still be able to register for other reasons if a situation isn’t listed. For example, if they need short-term support after a stay in hospital.

How to register

It’s advised people contact their energy supplier or network operator directly to sign up to the register. For those unsure what theirs might be, they can access Ofgem’s useful tool, here.

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Ofgem advises: “Give them your contact details and as much information as you can about your needs.

“Your supplier can pass your details to your network operator to add you to their register too. It’s a good idea to ask them to do this if you rely on your energy supply for medical reasons.”

However, for those who have different suppliers for their gas and electricity, registrants will need to contact them both.

People also need to register again with any new supplier if the supplier is switched.

However, despite some experts fearing there to be a risk of winter blackouts, Downing Street has said there is no risk of this in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson told the Independent: “Households, businesses and industry can be confident they will get the electricity and gas that they need over the winter,”

“That’s because we have one of the most reliable and diverse energy systems in the world,”

She continued: “We have access to our own North Sea gas reserves alongside steady imports from reliable partners like Norway.”

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