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Response to the Priority Services Register (PSR) Review

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Problem debt and vulnerable clients. Changing the definition of vulnerability.

StepChange Debt Charity agrees with the Ofgem approach to enhancing eligibility by changing the definition of vulnerability to be based on personal characteristics and circumstances, rather than depending on the assignment of ‘core groups’.

We ask Ofgem to understand that evidence of financial difficulties is a personal circumstance that can cause vulnerability. The distress problem debt creates is linked to poor mental health and can have negative consequences for family life and employment.

  • 74% of StepChange Debt Charity clients polled said debt had affected their sleep patterns
  • 57% of indebted parents said debt put their current or most recent relationship under strain
  • 43% said debt worries left them unable to concentrate at work
  • 6% said it caused changes to work attendance like arriving late or taking more time off

If not addressed, financial problems can have long term debt consequences.

A summary of our response:

  1. We support the Ofgem approach to enhancing eligibility by changing the definition of vulnerability to one based on personal characteristics and circumstances
  2. We stress that problem debt is a personal circumstance that can cause vulnerability
  3. We welcome the acknowledgement that families with children under five are likely to have additional vulnerability

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