Our Stakeholder Liaison Officers in the Advice & Stakeholder Team analyse casework trends and identify issues with supplier practices affecting vulnerable consumers.
They work closely with the energy industry, holding regular meetings with energy suppliers and stakeholders to highlight concerns that have been identified and working to resolve these.
The team feeds into the work of the policy teams within Citizens Advice, providing evidence from casework analysis and highlighting concerns to the energy regulator where necessary. Detailed evidence from the Extra Help Unit has been provided to Ofgem as part of investigations against suppliers which has led to enforcement action being taken.
Our Stakeholder Liaison Officers also deal with referrals from Elected Representatives on behalf of their constituents. The document at the foot of this page details how the Extra Help Unit can help the office of an elected representative. The following case study was a referral received from an MP's office:
A referral was received from an MP's office on behalf of a constituent aged 86 years old and registered disabled. She had previously received a bill from her energy supplier for more than £12,000 which had caused a great deal of distress, particularly as she had been making regular payments. It transpired her payments had been allocated to an incorrectly closed account for a number of years. The payments had since been allocated to the consumer's correct account and a reduction applied in line with the industry code of practice for accurate bills however, a balance of over £2,000 was still outstanding. The consumer disputed this remaining balance and had not received a clear explanation as to how the reduction had been calculated. The matter had been ongoing for a number of months.
A Stakeholder Liaison Officer raised a complaint with the energy supplier, questioning the level of reduction applied. The calculation used for the billing reduction was checked and was found to be incorrect. The supplier corrected this and agreed to withdraw the full remaining balance as a goodwill gesture. A payment plan was also set up to cover the ongoing usage cost. The consumer was very grateful for our assistance and relieved to have the matter resolved.
Any postal industry complaints are dealt with by the Advice & Stakeholder Team.
Ask the Adviser
Ask the Adviser is a telephone service for advice providers seeking information or advice on how to resolve an energy or post complaint for a client.
Our experienced Stakeholder Liaison Officers are resourced to answer questions regarding industry regulations, complaint handling standards and licence conditions.
Advice is also given on resolving more complex queries around things like metering, billing and tariffs. They will offer guidance on how to best support a client, including advice on interpreting regulations and best practice or even offering an opinion about whether a resolution offered by a supplier is acceptable.
In certain circumstances a referral to the Extra Help Unit may be accepted through Ask the Adviser however, usually only when previous advice hasn’t resulted in the expected outcome.
Ask the Adviser may also be used to report policy issues that advice providers may have noticed when dealing with suppliers.
Advice providers can call the Ask the Adviser line on 0344 980 0041 (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm)
Are you an advice provider who wants to refer your client straight away?
Call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline (03454 040506) and explain that you want to refer the matter to the Extra Help Unit giving the reasons why your client meets the referral criteria.
You will then be referred to the Extra Help Unit who can either take over the handling of the case completely or deal with you as the clients’ agent where authority is provided.
If your client wants to deal with the matter themselves, they can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline themselves directly.