The utilities sector has a duty to support its customers in potentially vulnerable situations, especially where they are (temporarily) left without electricity, gas or water due to a fault at the home or in the supply network.
Customers who meet the eligibility criteria can sign up to their utility supplier’s or network operator’s Priority Services Register (PSR), giving them access to extra help and support. Eligibility criteria for the PSR include older age, disability, long term medical conditions and hearing or visual impairment.
Five utility companies – Cadent, GEUK, Southern Water, Wales & West Utilities, and Western Power Distribution – came together with Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to co-sponsor this study to explore the particular rural dimension to vulnerability, as experienced by customers. The study was undertaken by a small team of researchers at the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) and Rural England CIC.