We supported changes to the scheme but called for changes to the eligibility criteria of the main fund, to broaden its scope, as it is currently restricted to only those organisations providing explicit energy advice.
The stated aim of the main fund is broad, ‘to support energy consumers in vulnerable situations’, however, the fund does not currently allow debt advice providers like StepChange to apply.
This is due to the fact that, in addition to providing energy consumers with holistic debt advice, we also disburse payments to energy providers on behalf of any client on an agreed payment plan.
This activity precludes organisations like StepChange from being eligible for funding, as it is deemed that money accrued from fines that is put into the Fund, should not directly benefit energy firms in the form of debt repayments.
We believe this approach is based on a very narrow view of debt advice, and our evidence shows the holistic benefits of debt advice for energy consumers.
You can download our full response here.