OVO Energy launches coronavirus hardship scheme for customers

OVO Energy launches coronavirus hardship scheme for customers

Reuters  | Apr 06, 2020 14:05

OVO Energy launches coronavirus hardship scheme for customers

By Susanna Twidale

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's second largest energy supplier, Ovo Energy, has launched a 50 million pound hardship scheme to help customers struggling to pay their bills due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The government has ordered sweeping measures to slow the spread of the virus, shutting down much of the economy and raising the prospect of mass job losses.

"OVO customers who are most in need and eligible for support will be able to contact customer services directly for either emergency top-up credit or temporary payment reductions to their monthly payments," the company said in a statement.

OVO said eligible customers would be able to access the support from April 8.

Britain's energy trade association, Energy UK, last week called on the government to offer financial support to energy suppliers to help them offer payment breaks to customers struggling with bills.

OVO said an industry wide scheme would be needed in the longer term to support customers, which is being worked on by suppliers and regulator Ofgem. However, this may take some time to set up.

"In the meantime, we are doing what we can to give reassurance and support to our customers," said Stephen Fitzpatrick, OVO Energy CEO.

Energy suppliers such as OVO, as well as E.ON's (DE:EONGn) E.ON UK and Npower, have altogether placed thousands of workers on furlough, with workers such as smart meter readers and installers unable to carry out their roles due to the government restrictions.

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