Collaboration key to supporting vulnerable customers

The utility industry has moved another step closer to a single, shared Priority Services Register (PSR) for the UK which will help companies look after vulnerable customers.

Essex & Suffolk Water has become the next water utility to integrate its PSR records with UK Power Networks.

The two utilities are now automatically sharing PSR records, enabling extra support for customers who may be more vulnerable if their electricity or water supply are affected. The partnership aims to prevent people who need extra help, from falling through the cracks, and ensures that those who register with one utility also receive support from the other without having to register twice.

This latest partnership builds on UK Power Networks’ partnership with Thames Water which has now seen over 25,000 records safely shared since August 2021.

A third of registrations shared by Thames Water with UK Power Networks so far, are customers who would have otherwise not received extra help during a power cut, as they had only registered with the water utility. Now thanks to the utilities working together, thousands of customers are automatically getting vital support instead.

More customers need support during a power cut than ever before and there has never been a more crucial need for a cross-utility PSR to ensure that everyone who needs support – from the elderly and those with young children to those reliant on medical equipment – can register in the easiest way possible.

People who are registered have access to a 24-hour priority phone line. The electricity network operator also offers tailored support such as hot meals and emergency power cut support kits. The water companies deliver bottled water to customers if their water is off and they can’t leave their house, which is critical for those dependent on water for medical needs.

The trio of UK Power Networks, Essex & Suffolk Water and Thames Water are sharing the learnings from the project and working with others across the industry, to define how customers can get all the support they need from their utilities.

Ian Cameron, Head of Customer Services and Innovation at UK Power Networks says: ‘We know creating a shared PSR platform is not easy, but we are proving that by coming together we can overcome the challenges. Ultimately, making it as easy as possible for customers to get the support they need is the end goal. This is just the start and as we gather momentum, I hope to see more utilities doing the same. The value in collaborating is clear, if we are all to do the right thing by our customers we cannot stop until a single, shared PSR covering all of our collective customers is made a reality.”

Claire Sharp, Customer Director at Essex & Suffolk Water, comments: “Our customers are our biggest priority, and we want to make sure that they can get all the support they need, whenever they may need it.

“Integrating our PSR records with UK Power Networks is just one part of our exciting, wider ‘Support for All’ project we’re working on, which has recently won funding from Ofwat.

“The overall aim is to establish a cross-sector priority services register between water and energy by building a centralised hub of support. This partnership shows what can be done for our customers and is a huge step towards that.”

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