The big six energy suppliers, in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are adjusting policy to counter the financial difficulties imposed by COVID-19. Monarch sheds light on some of these special measures and its commitment to keeping you in the loop.
Work to be Done
One of the primary concerns during the COVID-19 crisis, and the current lockdown, has been the state of work and employment and how several weeks or even months could financially affect those unable to work from home.
The effects of coronavirus on the UK economy and the countermeasures developed to mitigate them were the major talking point of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget announcement. However, while there was a lot of sound and fury concerning protecting small and medium sized businesses through emergency funds and financing the wages of furloughed employees, little was said regarding consumer habits and needs.
A key issue is that of energy and utilities consumers, who may now be without the means to pay their bills and what measures have been established to protect them, particularly those with underlying health conditions who are likely to be more vulnerable both to cold weather and to the virus itself.
A New Deal
As a result, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy have arranged a temporary agreement with ‘The Big Six’ to protect vulnerable individuals that may be unable to keep up with utility payments or are reliant on others to do.
“The government has committed to do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic. Today those most in need can rest assured that a secure supply of energy will continue to flow into their homes during this difficult time.”
-Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, David Smith
The most significant term of this agreement will no doubt be the suspension of credit meter disconnection which affords unprecedented financial protection when it is most needed. Although many other options are also being considered such as added flexibility on tariffs and a potential 30-day payment freeze on bills which some suppliers have already started to offer to their customers.
Perhaps even more significant than the measures themselves is the shift in tone when defining vulnerability under the circumstances that COVID-19 has imposed. The agreement document stipulates that “any customer can suddenly become vulnerable…”, showing a stark recognition of both the threat of COVID-19 as well as its ability to utterly disrupt one’s financial position.
What is clear amongst all of this, is that solidarity and compassion are winning, the rising trend in mental health awareness is perhaps to thank for our governments understanding that people need to feel secure in order to conduct themselves calmly and productively.
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