Supplementary written evidence submitted by EDF (WIN0062)

 

I am writing following the oral evidence session on September 6th. It was a privilege to attend the important session on preparedness for winter and to be able to express the support we have put in place for our customers for this winter. I am also grateful for the opportunity to discuss some of the more long term, sustainable solutions to the affordability of energy bills such as a social tariff. 

 

As discussed in the session, the Committee has asked for follow up writing on some questions. Below you will find a written follow up to those questions posed to EDF, as well as two corrections to answers I gave.

 

Q121 from Barry Gardiner MP

We’ll be contacting our most vulnerable customers, who are already showing signs of struggling, to discuss the support we have available this winter. We're making this process simpler and quicker for those customers who will be invited to apply online and, if they’re eligible, support will be confirmed within 24 hours.

 

Following the launch of our CARE steps of support in 2022, through which our advisors seek to help our customers who are struggling with their bills or are in debt, we continue to ensure we always provide a level of support that is tailored to individual needs:

Cost – help to reduce the cost of bills.

Affordability – understand the customer’s ability to pay for energy.

Resolution – seek to agree a positive, sustainable solution.

Extra Support – check if the customer would benefit from extra support and advice.

 

In 2023 we have committed £7.1m to help our fuel-poor customer by working with third parties such as Citizens Advice, IncomeMax, the NEA and Shine. With the potential for this to increase to 8.5m following the launch of a Scotland Broader group scheme.

 

Further, EDF is the market leader in ECO, tackling fuel poverty head on. £100m of support has gone into insulating and improving the energy efficiency of homes across Britain, and another £82m is being delivered.

 

We have also invested 28,000 hours in training in all our people, and we have a specialised team that is dedicated to help those customers who are struggling with their bills.

 

We also have a FreshStart scheme which allows us to write off the debt of some of our customers. Finally, we have increased by 25% the number of instalment plans schemes since the start of the year.

 

Q132 from Barry Gardiner MP

As discussed at the Committee, we are currently transitioning to a new operating model. Under our current model, digitally excluded customers can contact us via the telephone (including text telephone), Monday – Friday between 8am – 6pm. To ensure our customers can contact us if they are in need, we also offer our support and contacts channels via SMS and WhatsApp, Monday – Friday between 7am – 11pm and Saturday – Sunday between 8am – 8pm. Customer can of course also write to us at our FreePost address (EDF CUSTOMER CORRESPONDENCE).

 

Ofgem Customer Service Standards Consultation

To follow up from the questioning from Mr Gardiner regarding the customer service standard proposals from Ofgem. I would like to clarify that Mr Gardiner was referring to potential requirements that Ofgem is currently consulting on introducing but has not yet made any final decisions on. I can, however, confirm that EDF are engaging and working with Ofgem on these proposals and will of course comply with any resulting changes to our licence conditions.

 

Clarification in response to Barry Gardiner MP

In my response to Mr Gardiner’s question regarding the provision of a 24/7 enquiry service for meter faults, I incorrectly said we did offer such a service.

 

As noted, Ofgem is currently consulting on whether they should require suppliers to provide such a service. EDF does not however currently offer a 24/7-meter fault enquiry service. As discussed at the Committee, we are currently transitioning to a new operating model. Under our current model, where the majority of our customers currently sit, our opening hours are as follows. Our call centres are open (including for text telephone) Monday – Friday between 8am – 6pm. To ensure our customers can contact us, those customers can also contact us via SMS and WhatsApp, Monday – Friday between 7am – 11pm and Saturday – Sunday between 8am – 8pm.

 

Information and advice on what customers can and should do in an electricity or gas emergency is also available on our website, and on their bill.

 

I apologise for the unintentional response given, and would be appreciative if the record could show the above. Our opening hours will of course be adjusted should Ofgem make any changes to our licence requirements via its ongoing review of customer service standards.

 

Clarification in response to Alexander Stafford MP

In my response to Mr Stafford’s question regarding the support available to non-domestic customers and small businesses, I said the following:

 

“In EDF we are reaching out to 150,000 customers that signed in ’22 and we have offered to reopen 15,000 contracts. We are in discussion with brokers, in order to reopen 15,000 other contracts, but we need approval from the brokers and so that is a negotiation that is going on.”

 

It should however say:

 

“In EDF we are reaching out to 15,000 customers that signed in ’22 and we have offered to reopen 15,000 contracts. We are in discussion with brokers, in order to reopen 15,000 other contracts, but we need approval from the brokers and so that is a negotiation that is going on.”

 

I apologise for the unintentional confusion on the figure and would be grateful if the record could show the accurate and updated figure of 15,000 rather than 150,000.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Philippe Commaret

Managing Director, Customers

 

September 2023