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The CRU has today announced moratoriums on disconnections for all domestic electricity and gas customers for the coming winter period.

The moratorium for customers registered as being particularly vulnerable to winter disconnections will be in place to cover a six-month period from 1 October 2023 until 31 March 2024.

Vulnerable customers registered as being critically dependent on electrically powered assistive devices cannot be disconnected for reasons of non-payment at any time and this protection remains in place.

The moratorium for all domestic customers has also been extended again this year from what is normally a 3-week period over Christmas and will now be in place from 1 December 2023 until 31 January 2024.

The CRU considered that extending moratoria beyond this period was not in the best interests of customers, as an analysis of recent retail market data has shown that during extended moratoria customers continue to incur debt rather than engaging with their suppliers to enter a payment plan, leading to an increased level of debt and greater difficulty in reducing this over time and a higher risk of disconnection when the moratoria is lifted.

The disconnection moratoria are in addition to the customer protections that were announced by the CRU in August for the coming winter, following a review of retail data and feedback from stakeholders, including customer representative groups. These protections include extended repayment periods, reduced debt burden on Pay-as-you-go, better value on financial hardship meters and greater promotion of the vulnerable customer register.

The customer protections are complemented by the supplier-led Energy Engage Code, that provides a further level of security for domestic electricity and gas customers. This Code encourages customers, who are having difficulty in paying a bill, to engage with their supplier regarding the management of debt. Under this code, suppliers will not disconnect customers who engage with them and must provide every opportunity to customers to avoid disconnection.

Commenting on the announcement, Karen Trant, Director of Customer Policy & Protection said: “Moratoria on disconnections are vital in providing support and peace of mind to customers during the winter period.  In addition, the supplier-led Energy Engage Code provides further protection for customers who may have built up debt.  It is important for customers who find themselves in this position to talk to their supplier at an early stage to find the best solution for them, as customers who engage with their supplier will not be disconnected.  With these protections in place and given the data trends on the level of accumulated debt we do not feel that this will benefit customers”.