Over 90% of UK households think energy suppliers should be focused on supporting those in need, with over three quarters of the public having searched online about support their energy supplier is offering with bills.
OVO’s £50m Customer Support Package launched on the 1st October to help customers with a real and immediate need.
During the first month OVO provided: over 450 electric throws a day, over 1,700 free Smart thermostats, 1,150 free boiler services and over 200 customers identified for discounted boilers. Additionally, for prepayment customers, approximately £300,000 of temporary credit has been issued each week.
Over the past month OVO has also increased its support for charities StepChange and the Trussell Trust who play a vital role supporting people in immediate need. Recent polling has revealed that more than one third of low income households say that they’ve specifically used resources from charities to help them identify support available for their energy bills.
Additional support includes a £500,000 partnership with the Trussell Trust to support food banks who are meeting increased need this winter and help people facing hardship access practical support to get through this crisis and to a place where they can afford the essentials. OVO has also continued its support with StepChange worth £2m, announced at the start of the energy crisis, to support anyone facing financial difficulties.
Further details of OVO’s Customer Support Package include:
· Payment holiday for debt repayment for all prepayment meter customers so that money goes directly to their immediate needs, not paying back debt this winter.
· Increase by at least £10 in emergency top-up credit for customers on prepayment meters and continued commitment to never disconnect a customer.
· Free energy saving products for customers’ homes, such as smart thermostats and electric throws – prioritised for those most in need.
· Free boiler services worth £90 and 20% discount for A rated boilers to ensure boilers are working as efficiently as possible and to help prevent energy waste in the home.
· Dedicated support for our customers in the most financial difficulty from a specialist team, including support for those in financial difficulty for the first time.
· Offering referrals to a specialist team to find other support for vulnerable customers e.g. extra benefit entitlement.
Raman Bhatia, CEO of OVO, said: “We launched OVO’s Customer Support Package to focus on doing everything we can to keep the lights on and help our customers stay warm this winter. In the first month we’ve supported over 15,000 customers who need us most right now. By working with partners like StepChange and Trussell Trust we can continue to ensure those facing hardship from the rising cost of living are supported this winter and beyond.”
Phil Andrew, Chief Executive at StepChange Debt Charity, said: “The cost of living crisis has been a shock to household finances, and those on the lowest incomes have been hit the hardest as the price of energy, food and fuel has increased rapidly over the past year. The support that continues to be offered to its customers by OVO is invaluable, particularly as we approach the winter. Our own research has revealed that 45% of UK adults have found it difficult to keep up with household bills and credit commitments in the last few months. This demonstrates how important it is that firms step up to provide a similar level of support which protects the most vulnerable consumers from falling into problem debt and financial hardship during this crisis.”