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Standards of performance
Failure by suppliers to comply with overall standards of performance can result in regulatory action by Ofgem. Suppliers are regulated through the Standard Licence Conditions (SLCs). If there is widespread evidence of suppliers flouting or avoiding their obligations under the SLCs, Ofgem is expected to act.
There are two kinds of standards of performance – ‘overall’ and ‘individual’. ‘Overall standards’ are targets laid down by Ofgem to measure the supplier’s general performance. Failure to comply with overall standards is a matter between the supplier and Ofgem and is unlikely to affect you directly. ‘Individual standards’ are rules of performance (ie, the Electricity (Standards of Performance) Regulations 2015 and the Electricity and Gas (Standards of Performance) (Suppliers) Regulations 2015)1E(SP) Regs as amended by the Electricity and Gas (Standards of Performance) (Suppliers) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 No.116; EG(SP)S Regs which, if they are breached, normally entitle you to a small compensation payment. These regulations set out the sums that electricity suppliers and distributors must pay you by way of compensation for failure to meet specified standards of performance, subject to certain exemptions.
The standards of performance covering electricity distributors set out prescribed timeframes for supply restoration to premises in normal and severe weather conditions, supply restoration in the case of multiple interruptions or cases where a power cut arises from the operation of the distributor’s fuse. The standards also cover estimates for connection and prior notice of planned supply interruptions where power is rationed on a rota to be provided within a prescribed timeframe and cover complaints relating to voltage levels.
If you encounter a breach of licence conditions, report the matter to Ofgem for investigation.
1     E(SP) Regs as amended by the Electricity and Gas (Standards of Performance) (Suppliers) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 No.116; EG(SP)S Regs »
Standards apply to all electricity suppliers (referred to as ‘operators’ in the context of the legislation). Some of these standards also overlap with the responsibilities placed upon electricity distributors. Suppliers provide online information and leaflets describing them – some may also include additional standards which the supplier has set for itself. The standards set down by the law cover:
    failure of the distributor’s fuse;
    restoring supply where disconnection was the supplier’s fault;
    providing a supply;
    providing an estimate of charges for connection of a supply or moving a meter;
    giving notice when the supplier has to interrupt a supply;
    dealing with voltage complaints;
    dealing with meter disputes;
    responding to complaints about prepayment meters not working;
    responding to requests or queries about charges or payments;
    making and keeping appointments;
    giving notice to consumers of their rights under this scheme.
Where there is a dispute over the application of the standards or entitlement to compensation, the regulations set out the procedure to be followed once the matter has been referred to Ofgem.1ss39, 39A and 39B EA 1989; Sch 3 E(SP) Regs
Minimum periods and compensation
The standards require actions to be carried out within a certain time frame. Failure to do so entitles you to a fixed sum, from £30 for three hours on a working day and four hours at a weekend (for most matters) up to £75 and with payments in respect of each 12 hours.2Reg 11(3) and Sch 2 EG(SP) Regs
The payment from suppliers is limited to one payment per household and not linked to the number of customers affected where less than 5,000 customers are affected and a power cut arises as a result of a fault or failure in ordinary conditions.3Reg 5 E(SP) Regs
Where more than 5,000 customers are affected and the supply is interrupted as a result of a failure of, fault in or damage to the distribution system, the maximum compensation is £300.4Reg 6(2) E(SP) Regs
Standard payments are normally maximum payments, though they may be increased at the discretion of the energy supplier.
If failure to meet the standards causes you to lose more than £30 or £75, you can still claim the larger amount. If necessary, you can go to court. If there is any dispute between you and the supplier over these standards or the payments, contact Citizens Advice consumer service for advice. A dispute resolution process is set out in the Regulations.5Reg 11 EG(SP) Regs Your ultimate remedy would be a claim in the civil courts.
Severe weather
Under the Guaranteed Standards Payment Scheme, where severe weather conditions leave you without power for 48 hours, you are entitled to £75 and a further £75, for every additional 12 hours, up to a maximum of £700 from distributors.6Reg 7 E(SP) Regs
Compensation during severe weather conditions is sometimes different to the standard payment scheme. For example, following storm Arwen in November 2021, one network operator increased statutory payments by 20 per cent and removed the £700 cap. Another paid £150 per household on top of the statutory payment for customers without supply for over 48 hours. Electricity network operators also offered to recompensate reasonable expenses for accommodation costs.
Where a supplier fails to pay you for failure to meet a standard within 10 working days, an additional payment of £30 (known as an ‘additional standard payment’) must be made.7Reg 8(2) EG(SP)S Regs
However, it is important to note that payments made by a supplier are only made in respect of a premises, not the number of customers within those premises, who may be adversely affected or who may be named on the bill. Where a supplier has made the necessary payment or payments (in the case of an additional standard payment) it is taken as having discharged its obligations to all customers.8Reg 8(5) EG(SP)S Regs The customer who is in receipt of the payment may request payment to be made in a particular way, including by cheque or electronic transfer. Although the supplier is not obliged to make payment in the way requested, the supplier must not unreasonably withhold payment in that way.9Reg 8(7) EG(SP)S Regs
These provisions may not apply to customers living on islands where the supply is provided on or under the sea-bed and no alternative means is available to the distributor.10Reg 9(3) EG(SP) Regs
1     ss39, 39A and 39B EA 1989; Sch 3 E(SP) Regs »
2     Reg 11(3) and Sch 2 EG(SP) Regs »
3     Reg 5 E(SP) Regs »
4     Reg 6(2) E(SP) Regs »
5     Reg 11 EG(SP) Regs »
6     Reg 7 E(SP) Regs »
7     Reg 8(2) EG(SP)S Regs »
8     Reg 8(5) EG(SP)S Regs »
9     Reg 8(7) EG(SP)S Regs »
10     Reg 9(3) EG(SP) Regs »
Minimum standards are laid down in regulations for gas.1EG(SP) Regs amended by the Gas (Standards of Performance) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 No.257 As with electricity, there are some automatic levels of compensation for which standard payments and additional standard payments may be made. Gas companies may also have their own schemes of settlement. The customer relations manager in each British Gas region has the authority to settle claims for breach of these standards, up to £5,000.
1     EG(SP) Regs amended by the Gas (Standards of Performance) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 No.257 »