Following an article on district heating on Radio 5 Live, Heat Trust has made the following statement. 

“Heat Trust is a voluntary scheme that sets the standards for high quality customer service and protection for people living on district heating schemes. Customers on heat networks registered with Heat Trust can refer complaints about their supplier to the Energy Ombudsman in the same way as electricity and gas customers.  It is vital that issues raised by customers are addressed proactively and swiftly. We encourage customers with complaints that are unresolved after eight weeks and are on heat networks that are registered to Heat Trust, to contact the Energy Ombudsman who can investigate their complaint thoroughly and independently.

“The Scheme’s customer service standards are set by an independent committee, with representatives from consumer bodies, local authorities, housing associations, Scottish and UK governments and heat suppliers. We believe all heat networks should be required to meet the service standards set out by the Heat Trust, and this should be a condition of receiving any government funding.”

Notes to editors

About Heat Trust

Heat Trust is a voluntary, stakeholder-led scheme that sets the industry standard for high quality customer service and protection in the district heat market. We set customer service standards that build on those in the gas and electricity markets to ensure those protections are extended to customers on district heat schemes. Our vision is for all heat network customers to be provided with a dependable heat supply and excellent customer service. We endeavour to deliver heat customer protection by:

  • Applying robust customer service standards to heat suppliers;
  • Providing access to an independent dispute resolution service; and
  • Promoting best practice, innovation and continuous improvement in customer service.

 We are committed to working with all stakeholders to help ensure that the district heating market develops with a core focus on customer service and customer protection.  

How to make a complaint

When things go wrong with a customer’s heat supply and the problem cannot be resolved after speaking directly to the heat supplier, customers living on heat networks that are registered with the Heat Trust have access to a specialist independent complaint handling service, operated by the Energy Ombudsman. 

The Heat Trust has also produced a customer information sheet on how to make a complaint to your supplier and how to access the Energy Ombudsman which can be found here: http://www.heattrust.org/index.php/complaints

Complaints on accuarcy of bills and whether they have been calculated correctly can be taken to the Energy Ombudsman if the customer remains unhappy with how their supplier has managed their complaint. 

Governance

There are two groups involved in the governance of Heat Trust: the Board and the Committee of stakeholders.

The Heat Trust scheme is owned and managed by Heat Customer Protection Ltd, which is a not-for-profit company. The Board of Heat Customer Protection Ltd is responsible for ensuring the company’s operations and activities are within its Articles of Association and financial administration of the Company. The Board does not have the power to amend the Heat Trust standards directly. All Board members are bound by law to act in the interest of Heat Customer Protection Ltd and not the company of their employment.

A separate stakeholder Committee has been established to provide oversight of the Heat Trust scheme. It is the Committee’s role to review the standards set in the scheme and propose amendments to the standards. This structure is used in other codes of conduct and ensures a separation between the Board and Heat Trust Rules.

Importantly, independent panels and organisations are used to provide impartiality when assessing a heat supplier’s compliance with the Scheme:

  • We use the Energy Ombudsman to provide an independent complaint handling service.
  • We require each heat network to undergo an independent audit to assess compliance against the Scheme Rules. These audits will be conducted by independent Auditors as set out in the Scheme Bye-Laws.
  • If disciplinary action is required against a Registered Participant, a separate and independent Non-Compliance Panel is convened to assess the case and determine any necessary sanctions. It is the Non-Compliance Panel that can determine if a Registered Participant should be removed from Heat Trust.

How many networks are registered with Heat Trust?

As of end March 2017, there are 51 heat networks that are registered with Heat Trust, covering 30,000 customers.

ENDS