The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a list of households with vulnerable people which energy and water companies maintain to provide support to customers who need it most.

Two independent Distribution Network Operators (iDNOs) collaborated with ElectraLink and Experian to develop a proof of concept (POC) for PSR data analysis for energy networks. The POC aimed to assess PSR dataset quality and identify areas for improvement to enable record updates and facilitate sign-up and engagement among vulnerable households.

Challenge – iDNOs needed data and expertise to analyse vulnerable customer records

According to Ofgem, there were already over seven million households in the UK on the PSR in 2021 and this figure is growing. Qualifying characteristics for being on the register include health issues, disabilities, advanced age and reliance on medical equipment, among others.

Incomplete and out-of-date PSR data is an ongoing issue for utilities. Without the correct data, utilities cannot engage with vulnerable households regularly or effectively to offer the support they need. Energy networks have a regulatory obligation to cleanse and update their PSR datasets every two years, and iDNOs endeavour to do this to the best of their ability.

For this POC, two iDNOs wanted to cleanse their PSR records and gain insight into gaps and inaccuracies in the datasets.

The iDNOs turned to ElectraLink – a trusted, experienced organisation in energy sector data provision and analysis – and its partner, Experian – one of the UK’s largest credit rating agencies and consumer information databases – to handle and analyse the datasets. Thereafter, insights uncovered from the analysis would provide a starting point for action to update PSR records.

The iDNOs were familiar with ElectraLink and Experian through existing relationships and previous successful collaboration and felt confident engaging with both parties to embark on this project.

Solution – a proof-of-concept process with ElectraLink and Experian

To guide the PSR data analysis, the iDNOs worked with ElectraLink to build a process and capture detailed insights on the state of the datasets.

The iDNOs gave ElectraLink temporary, secure access to almost 90,000 PSR customers’ data and ElectraLink checked recorded names against the address each home’s energy supplier had recorded. ElectraLink can see supplier-fed data as all British energy suppliers share data over the Data Transfer Service – a central industry network which ElectraLink maintains, operates and analyses data from.

ElectraLink simultaneously securely sent the data to Experian who validated name, physical address, email address and phone numbers.

The output of this process was a panel of reports showing data accuracy rates against agreed criteria. Overall, the iDNO-fed data on their PSR customers proved to be largely accurate and up to date when correlated with ElectraLink-fed and Experian-validated data.

The headline results from the data analysis included:

  • 74 percent of all PSR customer records from iDNO 1 and 96 percent of all PSR customer records from iDNO 2 perfectly matched postcode data recorded by suppliers.
  • Only four percent of iDNO 1 records had no match with supplier address records and all of the iDNO 2 records matched with supplier data.
  • Of all the homes that had a full postcode match, 18 percent of properties in iDNO 1’s dataset had other address lines that did not exactly match supplier data. IDNO 2 had only a three percent discrepancy between its data and that of suppliers.
  • When compared with Experian data, iDNO 1 data had a quality check pass rate of 93 percent while iDNO 2 had a pass rate of 97 percent. A data quality pass meant no updates to a customer’s name and address were needed.

Results – iDNOs have assessed their data accuracy and can support vulnerable customers

This truly collaborative POC project met the iDNOs’ needs and shows their reassuringly high data accuracy, as well as where updates are required (primarily around where PSR customers have moved home, passed away, or changed phone numbers or email address).

With the state of PSR customer records uncovered, the iDNOs can now take action to update records, contact PSR customers and provide targeted support to more families.

The iDNOs also gained insight into some demographics about their customer bases. For example, both iDNOs discovered that a third or more of their PSR customers are young households trying to establish themselves in housing priced within their means. Other prominent demographic categories included pensioners living alone, single people renting cheap homes short term, and people living in affordable homes in villages. This rich insight into customer realities will help iDNOs package and deliver support quickly and efficiently.

Longer term, this POC has demonstrated its enduring effectiveness and can be repeated every two years in line with regulatory obligations. ElectraLink and Experian will be on hand to seamlessly replicate the process and roll it out to other networks making PSR record management very simple.