Ofgem has ordered energy firms Utilita and Scottish Power to meet their obligations to protect customers following a “series of apparent failings”.
Provisional orders issued to the firms follow Utilita’s lack of support for vulnerable customers and Scottish Power’s debt repayment plans, the regulator said.
Ofgem is due to publish its findings from a full market review into how suppliers make sure they are supporting customers struggling with bills.
Ofgem enforcement and emerging issues director Cathryn Scott said: “These orders to Utilita and Scottish Power are a clear signal to suppliers about the vital importance of protecting customers.
“The rise in the cost of living is an increasingly important public issue, and we expect urgent and immediate action on the points raised, as well as constructive engagement with Ofgem during the process.
“Suppliers must consider a customer’s vulnerability and ability to pay to a closer degree, particularly with what is likely to be a very challenging winter for many.”
A review by Ofgem into Scottish Power found “a number of apparent failings” around the way it set debt repayment plans and dealt with customers struggling with bills.
Ofgem also found apparent failings in the way Utilita had been dealing with all customers, including vulnerable customers, those on the Priority Services Register and customers in debt.
Utilita said: “We are disappointed that Ofgem has decided to issue a Provisional Order against us.
“Only a few short weeks ago a senior staff member from Ofgem visited our contact centre and was full of praise for the way we help our customers, of which one in three are on our Priority Services Register.
“The financial support we offer is extensive: in 2022 alone, we will provide financial assistance more than a million times to customers who desperately need our help.
“We are deeply committed to supporting our 800,000 customers through these hard times – constantly looking for new ways to help them – and will continue ongoing dialogue with Ofgem to address its concerns.”
A Scottish Power spokesman said: “We’re disappointed that all of the effort our staff make to help our customers manage affordability challenges has resulted in this conclusion from Ofgem.
“We will now work with Ofgem to implement their recommendations.”