Extra support for vulnerable households during Covid-19

We’re expanding our support services during the crisis

6 April 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting every person in the UK. But for those who are vulnerable - due to age, ill health or loss of income - the impacts are particularly severe; increased energy costs from being at home during lockdown, being isolated from support systems and community, losing access to basic necessities and grappling with constantly changing benefits advice.

CSE’s advice team are rapidly re-prioritising and evolving our services to support vulnerable households during this period of unprecedented need.

[If you live in the South West of England we can help you with issues such as topping up your prepayment meters, water and energy bills, switching supplier, benefits and debt advice, housing, food banks, food and prescriptions delivery and befriending services. Click here to complete the referral form and we'll be in touch as soon as possible.]

Western Power Distribution (WPD) were quick to respond, working with us to revise the services we provide their most vulnerable customers, those on their Priority Services Register (PSR).

CSE have a longstanding partnership with WPD, providing free energy advice to over 3,000 of their PSR customers a year through the Power Up Advice Hub. We offer support on topics like income maximisation, tariff switching, insulation and heating measures, as well as guidance on health and wellbeing.

WPD and CSE have agreed to use the Power Up service to proactively contact PSR customers to offer more extensive support, starting with the most vulnerable, such as people living off-gas, with existing health conditions who may be lonely or isolated.

Based on our advisors’ experiences speaking to customers over the last two weeks, the advice team are expanding the list of advice topics we can offer, including:

  • Health-related energy advice, including how to keeping warm at home, using energy efficiently, thermostats, heating controls, ventilation.
  • Special advice for Economy 7 customers who may be using a lot more electricity during the high tariff day period.
  • Latest advice for maintaining and paying for energy during the crisis, including support with topping up prepayment meters, and supplier offers to support with paying bills, or placing payments on hold.
  • We’ll check how you’re feeling and coping and signpost you to NHS services if needed.
  • Loneliness and isolation advice, identification and referral to local community response teams, volunteer remote befrienders, etc.
  • Revised benefits advice, including supporting people who have lost employment due to the crisis and need help applying for new government support.
  • Signposting to support services for food and prescriptions, including online shopping bookings, priority shopping hours for vulnerable people and food bank support for people in severe need.
  • General advice for offline households who need support to access information.

Phone lines are still open

Our advice team are still busy helping people who are struggling to keep warm and to manage their fuel bills. We have different phone numbers depending on which part of our area you live in or who your energy supplier is.

  • If you are in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and county of Somerset: call 0800 082 2234
  • Bath & North East Somerset: call 0800 038 5680
  • Dorset: call 0300 003 7023
  • Wiltshire: call 0800 038 5722
  • Ovo Energy customers: call 0800 038 5688
  • Boost customers: 0800 038 5688
  • Lumo customers: 0800 038 5730

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