New code of practice for electricity supply companies
A new code of practice for electricity supply companies has been launched today to help those struggling with their bills.
The Energy Engage Code will be followed by the five main electricity suppliers and will guarantee that no customer who engages with their supplier over arrears will be cut off.
Speaking at the launch the Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte described the code of practice as the first step in easing the burden on those under financial pressure.
"Many families continue to struggle with bills, that is clear and I am determined to ease the burden on these families," Minister Rabbitte said.
"This code of practice … creates new mechanisms to help customers having difficulty with their energy bills and gives a very simple, clear commitment from energy suppliers to consumers – if you engage with your supplier your energy supply will not be cut off."
Under the ‘Energy Engage Code’,suppliers will guarantee that no customer engaging with them will be cut off.
They will seek to identify vulnerable customers at an earlier stage and will treat each customer individually, with realistic and achievable payment plans offered to any customer in difficulty. The new Code will be independently audited to ensure that all energy suppliers are complying with it.
"We would see the code as being a really good start and it's very important that we tackle the issue of disconnections," said Brendan Hennessy, Social Justice Officer for the Society of St Vincent dePaul.
"We would recognise that there is a huge number of people struggling with their energy bills, and that there is a lot of other bills coming down the line as well.
"We would focus a lot of our work on encouraging people who are struggling to pay bills to take the pay as you go meters.
"This allows people to get energy and pay for it on a weekly basis."