Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the network that powers everyday life for 8 million customers and 3.9 million homes and businesses in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, has been accredited with the BSI Inclusive Service Provision for Vulnerable Customers standard (BSI 18477) for the fourth successive year.
The nationally recognised British Standard measures Northern Powergrid’s understanding of vulnerability, and how it applies this understanding across its business activities, services, policies and procedures to support its customers.
As part of the audit, the network operator demonstrated the range of services it offers and its targeted recruitment strategy to help ensure that vulnerable customers, who’d benefit from extra support, are encouraged to join its Priority Services Membership.
As a member Northern Powergrid can proactively support vulnerable customers with a range of services including customer support vehicles, hot food and generator provision depending on the situation. It can also offer extra communications support such as text relay, text messaging, British Sign Language video interpreting and other online services to help customers looking for a new connection to the region’s power network or needing support in a power cut.
Catherine Harris, Northern Powergrid’s consumer vulnerability manager, said: “This standard recognises the great work our people do to support our customers who may need extra support due to their medical or personal circumstances and how we seek to make our service inclusive for all.
“Whilst the audit was all done online this year, the level of detail and assessment of our practices and procedures remained as robust as ever. Through the audit we showed how we continue to use the in-depth research we invest in to help us understand the different vulnerabilities in the communities we serve and shape and deliver our support services. We were also able to share how we’ve improved our website to make our support services easier to access for our customers and how we are ensuring that our partners’ services – as part of our strategy to support the communities we serves – are visible through a new Force for Good information page.”
Northern Powergrid offers customers who may have a serious health condition, be medically dependent on electricity, of pensionable age, have very young children or have mental health or specific communication needs, access to free Powergrid Care support services if they have a power cut. Customers can sign up friends or family – as well as themselves – to Northern Powergrid’s free Priority Services Membership at any time by visiting northernpowergrid.com/care or calling 0800 169 2996.
Northern Powergrid’s website also offers important information about how to get a new connection to the region’s power network, report a power cut and get updates. Customers can also follow Northern Powergrid’s 24-hour Twitter (@northpowergrid) and Facebook pages or use their mobile to visit its online interactive power cut map. Customer service advisors are available 24/7 at the electricity distributor’s contact centre and can be contacted by calling 105 - the free, easy-to-remember power cut phone number.
Northern Powergrid is currently exploring the best ways it can support the communities it serves and powers in the future. Any customers interested in sharing their views on everything from safety and network reliability to decarbonisation, customer service and how the network company should be a force for good, can visit Northern Powergrid’s dedicated microsite to have their say and contribute to the creation of the electricity network operator’s 2023-2028 business plan.