For vulnerable energy customers, Ofgem’s Priority Services Register (PSR) may provide help that is vitally needed. The recent changes made to the PSR by Ofgem mean that it is now available to help more people than ever before.
This guide takes you through the basics of the PSR, helping you find out whether you are eligible for it, and how to apply if so. It will also take you through some other help that’s available when sorting your energy supply.
Compare energy suppliers and save money in five minutes!
The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a system designed by Ofgem to help vulnerable energy customers. It is a free service, voluntarily used by suppliers and customers. Essentially, it helps customers with certain specific requirements. The help will vary between suppliers, and can come in many formats. Some of the standard things offered are:
Ofgem have recently made changes that make it easier to qualify for the PSR. The increased inclusivity of the system comes from taking into account a household’s circumstances, instead of just its characteristics. This means even those with temporary issues can be considered. The changes made by Ofgem also mean it is easier to track vulnerable customers between energy suppliers, who all keep their own register of vulnerable customers.
Whilst classification can vary between suppliers, you will generally qualify if you fall under any of the following categories:
You should remember that this is not a definitive list and if you are struggling in any way it could be worth applying to be on the PSR.
If you think you could benefit from additional help under the PSR, then you should sign up. This is a relatively simple process. You should begin by contacting your current energy provider. You can usually find their contact details online or in any letters you’ve had from them in the post. They will ask you a number of questions about your circumstances, characteristics and individual needs.
They should then contact you to let you know whether you are eligible, and if so, how they will be able to help you out. You will have to call and be added to the PSR for every supplier you have, for example if you have different suppliers for your electricity and gas.
You should still be able to switch providers if you want to change the deal you’re getting. As mentioned above, the new changes Ofgem have made to the PSR have made transferring information about vulnerable customer between energy suppliers a lot easier. However, you should remember that different suppliers have different criteria for being classified as vulnerable, and they may provide different things. Because of this, you should always check what your new potential supplier offers before making the switch.
Whether you are eligible for the PSR or not, there are a number of other support services that may be available to you.
Most suppliers will provide safety checks for appliances like gas boilers. This service is usually provided for free if you receive means-tested benefits or you live with at least one child under the age of five. These checks will also be free if you are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick and live alone, or with others that all have any of the mentioned issues or are under 18.
If you rent your home instead of owning, your landlord is responsible for ensuring the safety of your appliances. If you are concerned, you should ask your landlord the current safety status of the appliances you use.
There are also a number of Government energy schemes that may help you with affording your energy bill, such as the Winter Fuel payment, Warm Home Discount or the Cold Weather Payment. If you qualify for the PSR, then you are also likely to qualify for these. For more information on these schemes, see our article ‘Government Energy Schemes’