OVO announces £50m Customer Support Package to help the most vulnerable this winter

01 September 2022

  • OVO's new Customer Support Package will be open from 1st October and will be targeted to help customers with a real and immediate need.
  • The £50m package includes -
    • Payment holidays for debt repayment for all prepayment meter customers so that every penny put on the meter will go towards heating, not paying back debt this winter 
    • 200% increase in emergency top-up credit for customers on a prepayment meter and continued commitment to never disconnect a customer
    • Free technology and services such as smart thermostats, electric throws and boiler checks
    • A new charity partnership with the Trussell Trust to support food banks to meet increased need this winter - in addition to continued partnership with StepChange
  • The existing support from the Government will unfortunately not be enough to soften the impact of price rises. OVO has set out a 10 Point Plan to address the energy crisis here.

Thursday 1st September: OVO customers who are struggling as a result of rising energy prices will be able to access a new £50m Customer Support Package from 1st October, the company announced today. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen global energy prices soar and many families struggle to pay their energy bills. On average, OVO customer support teams talk to over 250,000 customers every week with the most pressing concerns covering topics including: how to reduce their energy usage, what support is available for vulnerable customers and confusion over the causes of price rises.

With Ofgem announcing an 80% increase in the price cap, over 80% of OVO’s customers say they’re either very concerned or unable to pay* their energy bills, leading OVO to focus on ensuring more support is provided to match the scale of the crisis. 

OVO has been working with industry, charities, consumer groups and the Government on a number of solutions, including a price freeze. However, given that this process may take some time, OVO has developed its new Customer Support Package to ensure that vulnerable customers are getting the help that they need. In order to meet their immediate needs, OVO conducted targeted customer research to prioritise the initiatives based on their thoughts and concerns.

The details of OVO’s Customer Support Package include:

  • Payment holiday for debt repayment for all prepayment meter customers so that money goes directly towards heating, not paying back debt this winter.
  • 200% increase in emergency top-up credit for customers on prepayment meters and continued commitment to never disconnect a customer. 
  • Free energy saving products for customers’ homes, such as smart thermostats and electric throws – prioritised for those most in need.
  • Free boiler services worth £90 and 20% discount for A rated boilers to ensure boilers are working as efficiently as possible and to help prevent energy waste in the home.
  • New Partnership with the Trussell Trust to support food banks to meet increased need this winter and help people facing hardship access practical support to get through this crisis and to a place where they can afford the essentials. 
  • Continued Partnership with StepChange announced at the start of the crisis to support people facing financial difficulty worth £2m.
  • Dedicated support for our customers in the most financial difficulty from a specialist team, including support for those in financial difficulty for the first time. 60% of UK adults who are aware of the Government’s £400 discount don’t think it will be enough to cover their energy usage, and 74% would find it useful to have advice on accessing help and support if they can’t afford to pay their energy bills.**

OVO will be offering these services to those who need extra support and meet certain eligibility criteria, and will begin rolling these out to customers from 1st October and throughout the winter. 

For more information on OVO’s Customer Support Package please visit the website.

To read OVO’s 10 Point Plan to address the energy crisis, please visit our website here.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder of OVO said:

“The stakes are high but the scale of ambition needs to be higher. With the new Prime Minister due to arrive next week, there isn't a moment to waste to find a way out of this crisis. Important and difficult decisions need to be made quickly. Some of these will need to take immediate effect, some in the months and years ahead. But we must start now. At OVO, we will continue to play an active role in proposing solutions, and putting our customers’ interests at the heart of the response. With fresh thinking, new leadership and bold action, it is still possible to keep everyone in Britain warm this winter.”

Raman Bhatia, CEO of OVO said:

“Our immediate focus is what we can do to help keep the lights on and our customers warm this winter. We are urging the Government to increase its support for those that need it. In the meantime, our Customer Support Package will provide immediate support to our customers who need it most right now. By working with partners like StepChange and Trussell Trust we can directly help people facing hardship this winter and beyond.”

Phil Andrew, CEO of StepChange said: 

“With energy prices nearly doubling in October and inflation running to 40-year highs, the financial pressure on millions of households is going to be unbearable this winter. The support announced by OVO will offer welcome relief to its low-income and pre-payment meter customers at a time of desperate need. However, with one in three new clients coming to us with energy arrears, even before this October’s price cap rise, we know there is much more to do to prevent widespread debt and destitution. Government must step up to deliver a financial package that matches the scale of the rise in energy prices and protects consumers from hardship this winter and beyond.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive at the Trussell Trust said:

“We are very grateful for OVO’s support to our network of food banks and people facing hardship. OVO’s Customer Support Package will directly help people struggling as a result of the energy crisis, which will hopefully protect more people from the impossible decision of heating or eating this winter.

“In recent months we have already seen a 50% increase in need at food banks compared to before the pandemic. We know the cost of living crisis is putting additional pressure on people on the lowest income and is driving more people to need a food bank. By partnering with OVO, we will support food banks to meet the increased need and help more people to get the support they need to get through this crisis and to a place where they can afford life’s essentials.

“No one in the UK should need a food bank – all of us should be able to heat our homes and put food on the table. The support of OVO will help food banks within our network continue to provide the lifeline of emergency support for local people facing hardship, while we work in the long term to end the need for food banks, for good.”

END

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact: [email protected]

*Survey results conducted on 25th August 2022 based on 750 OVO customers.

** YouGov Plc, online study, commissioned by OVO. Total sample size 2069 adults, of which 1,653 were responsible for dealing with energy suppliers. Fieldwork undertaken between 18th - 19th August 2022. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About OVO Energy 

OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers.  The company has spent the last decade investing in the market leading technology, customer service operations and digital products to help customers cut their carbon emissions. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living.

About StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange Debt Charity is the UK’s largest debt advice charity, helping hundreds of thousands of people a year. Founded in 1993, StepChange supports people experiencing debt problems through telephone and online services, and campaigns for change to reduce the harm and stigma associated with debt.

How your readers can get help with their debts

We provide the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service, from budgeting tips through to managing debt solutions that enable people to pay off or clear debts. All our free debt advice is available by phone or on our website.

StepChange is currently experiencing problems with imposter firms, who pass themselves off as the charity in online adverts. As these imposters are prominent online, if you are directing an advice seeker towards our services, please include a direct link to our website: https://www.stepchange.org/

Our Helpline: 0800 138 1111

Media team: 0207 391 4598 // [email protected] Out of hours - 07985 404153

About the Trussell Trust:    

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in the UK.     
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,300 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.     
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/