In a series of communications to suppliers and network companies, Ofgem has announced that industry regulatory practices are set to return to normal from 1st July 2020.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry regulator had outlined a softer regulatory framework which, amongst other things, allowed for extended deadlines on certain reporting requirements, an end to non-essential site works such as smart meter installations and a ban on domestic disconnections owing to debt.
However, Ofgem’s CEO Jonathan Brearley recently wrote: “Now it’s time to move to the next phase of managing the COVID-19 crisis – in particular, for the industry to return to providing the usual level of customer service to all consumers”.
The announcement means that suppliers will be expected to return to their normal standards of service, and that the only exceptions to this will be because of the need to comply with government guidelines relating to the pandemic.
Ofgem’s note identifies that suppliers are not able to extend unlimited credit, and therefore debt management processes will begin to normalise. The regulator does however note that such actions must be “fair and give careful consideration to the customer’s circumstances and ability to pay”.
The regulator notes that they will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and will respond if necessary to any change in circumstances.