Everyone is worried about the rising price of gas and the potential for power cuts this winter – but if you have a disabled child suddenly losing power isn’t just inconvenient, it can be catastrophic, especially if it’s needed for vital equipment.
But, there is help at hand for those in a vulnerable situation. Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, says that by joining the Priority Services Register, you should get a variety of support in an emergency if you:
- Are of pensionable age.
- Are disabled or chronically sick.
- Have a long-term medical condition.
- Have a hearing or visual impairment or additional communication needs.
- Are in a vulnerable situation.
- Are recovering from an injury
- Are pregnant or have children aged under five
Others in vulnerable situations not listed can also be added to the register and we understand that some families just explain they get certain benefits or have a blue badge and they are registered easily. It costs nothing to register. If the power gets cut, the agencies look at the register to decide on priorities for which areas need connection first.
After signing up to the register you will also receive:
- Advanced notice of planned power cuts, such as when engineering works are planned in your area.
- Priority support in an emergency such as heating and cooking facilities to keep you going.
- A free gas safety check every 12 months every 12 months if you own your own home. If you have a landlord, they are responsible for ensuring regular services. For more information about this responsibility visit: https://www.hse.gov.uk/.
- Other services may be offered by your supplier and network operator, so it’s always best to ask when you sign up to the Priority Register with them.
To apply all you need to do is contact your current energy supplier or network operator. If you have different suppliers for your gas and electricity then you will need to contact them both.
When you make contact with them all you need to do is say you want to join their ‘Priority Services Register and explain that your child has a disability – and even if they are not dependent upon power for oxygen or other life supporting equipment, they will likely still register you.
You should be sure to give them as much information as you can about your situation, including your child’s needs and any other vulnerable people in your household, as well as your full contact details. At this point you can also ask them to pass along your details to the network operator so they can register you too – particularly important if you rely on electricity for medical equipment.
Remember that you will also need to register every time you switch supplier, so if you are currently being moved from a supplier that has closed its doors, be sure to contact your new supplier with all your details.
- For more information about the help you can get visit https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households/getting-extra-help-priority-services-register
- You can find your energy supplier or network operator here https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energyadvicehouseholds/finding-your-energy-supplier-or-networkoperator
- If you aren’t signed up to the priority register and there is a power cut you can also call 105, a free number, which will connect you to your local electricity operator’s emergency line.