Vulnerable customers can take advantage of the Priority Services Register, a free service that utility network operators and suppliers provide to eligible individuals and households. It is an opportunity for consumers to weather circumstances that could potentially impact their access to essential utility services.
This register is available for the energy, water, public transport, and phone service sectors. Additionally, energy companies and various network operators have collaborated with water firms to signpost extra assistance for consumers jointly.
Priority services refer to several utility services that are made accessible to consumers. Included in the priority services aims are to deliver early warnings of supply interruptions, billing and reading assistance, moving the meter, and creating a password before a utility firm employee can enter customer premises.
More importantly, the Priority Services Register allows utility companies to provide special or tailored assistance to eligible vulnerable customers in a crisis.
Eligible customers who may be included in the register are those of pensionable age, parents living with a child under five years of age , chronically sick or disabled, or people diagnosed with a long-term health condition, along with consumers who need additional communication options, such as those hard of hearing or are visually impaired, are also included in the register.
Individuals with existing mental health conditions that affect their ability to understand their bills may also be eligible to be added to the register.
In certain circumstances, those who are injured and cannot top-up their prepayment meters are included in the criteria. If a consumer is found to need temporary support for only a limited time, they may also speak to their utility services provider and ask to be on the priority services register.
If you meet any of the conditions stated above, you can contact your utilities provider(s) to get informed on how to be included in the Priority Services Register. There is no central register available and this means every supplier is expected to have their own priority services register.
The suppliers can relay your information to the network operator, which will then help deliver and secure your supply despite your circumstance. Every eligible consumer is urged to register, especially if you rely on uninterrupted supply for health reasons or if you are living with a five-year-old child or younger.
Several companies are proactive in providing the free services that are due for people who need help, and one notable firm is Thames Water. To deliver extra help to dialysis patients, the company teamed up with the National Kidney Federation, which has assisted over 350 individuals in getting on the Priority Services Register.
Representatives from Thames Water, along with Royal Free Hospital Kidney Patient Association reps, visited dialysis patients in different hospitals and encouraged them to join the register.
Priority service customers are then contacted by the water company to set up the details of direct water deliveries to their homes if they cannot go to collection hubs. The patients are also informed ahead of time when service interruptions are scheduled due to repair or maintenance works.
Dialysis patients are some of the top priorities for Thames Water’s priority services register since they rely on the water supply for their home dialysis. However, anyone who is eligible is also given fair treatment when it comes to such services.
Another instance wherein Thames Water demonstrated proactiveness in prioritising consumers is through contacting them directly,and signing them up without hassle to the Priority Services Register. People who have been lucky to have been reached out to by the company are also spreading the good news by mouth. It’s an excellent way to inform other individuals in a similar situation to avail themselves of the uninterrupted services that they deserve.
Thames Water has around 83,000 customers registered for Priority Services. It is planning to increase this figure to 410,000 by 2025.