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VIDEO: Left in the dark? Power cut compensation to improve

by Sarah Saunders @SSaundersITV

'More could have been done' - that is the verdict after thousands of people suffered a miserable Christmas last year - when devastating storms left homes without power across huge areas of the south east.

Energy companies accused of failing their customers have been ordered to pay out more than £3 million pounds and double their compensation payments to customers after an inquiry into how they handled the storms.

Ofgem, the energy watchdog, found that companies like SSE and UK Power Networks could and should have worked faster to get customers reconnected - and keep them better informed.

Sarah Saunders spoke to Yalding resident Erica Olivares and Mark Mathieson from SSE power distribution.

National

Ofgem storm probe: 'Companies could have done more'

Ofgem has said "companies could have done more" to help customers during last year's winter storms, when power cuts affected nearly a million homes.

Read: Compensation boost for weather-related power losses

Chertsey in Surrey was one of the areas hit by floods last Christmas.
Chertsey in Surrey was one of the areas hit by floods last Christmas. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Ofgem's Maxine Frerk said:

A power cut at Christmas time is the last thing anyone needs.

While we recognise the hard work of the companies and their staff who were out working to reconnect customers during the severe weather, the companies could have done more to plan for the weather and keep customers informed.

– Maxine Frerk, Ofgem's senior partner for distribution

The energy regulator is to more than double the minimum compensation payment for households that suffer power losses due to severe weather.

Ofgem said the planned changes should "strengthen the incentives for companies to act quickly" and reconnect customers as soon as possible.

Read: Companies pay £3.3m extra in storm compensation

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National

Companies pay £3.3m extra in storm compensation

Energy regulator Ofgem has agreed an additional £3.3 million from companies SSE and UK Power Networks after an investigation into how they dealt with last year's winter storms.

The money will go to organisations that played a key role in helping vulnerable customers who suffered power loss.

The new payments come after an investigation into how the companies handled the storms.
The new payments come after an investigation into how the companies handled the storms. Credit: PA

The firms have already paid out £4.7 million and committed to improvements.

Read: SSE and UKPN pay out for handling of winter storms

Severe weather over Christmas 2013 saw power cuts affect nearly a million homes and Ofgem has today put the industry on notice that any repeat of last year's performance issues will trigger further action.

Scottish and Southern Energy's payout totals £2.3 million to the British Red Cross, Age UK, National Energy Action, Macmillan Cancer Support, and to a new community fund.

Distributor UK Power Network totals paid £1 million to the British Red Cross, the Royal Association for Deaf People, Carer's Trust and Citizens Advice.

Read more: Compensation boost for weather-related power losses

National

SSE and UKPN pay out for handling of winter storms

Energy provider Scottish and Southern Energy and distributor UK Power Network have agreed to pay out a total £8 million over their handling of last year's winter storms.

An additional £3.3 million has been secured by regulator Ofgem after the £4.7 million already paid out to customers over "exceptional" storms last Christmas in the south of England.

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National

Govt to detail pensions overhaul with tax reforms

The government will publish new rules for the pensions industry giving retirees greater access to their savings and free financial advice, fleshing out reforms announced earlier this year that shook the share value of British insurers.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Credit: PA

Chancellor George Osborne caught Britain's pensions industry by surprise in March when he scrapped a rule forcing people to buy an annuity, a financial product which converts a retiree's pension pot into a guaranteed retirement income.

"It's right to support hard working people that have taken the long-term decision to save for their future and I'm pleased that the responses we had to our proposals on making pensions more flexible have been overwhelmingly positive," Mr Osborne said.

National

Osborne: 'Free and impartial advice' over pensions

Chancellor George Osborne has said that "free and impartial advice" on pensions will be delivered by the Government using organisations like Citizen's Advice Bureau and Age UK.

Mr Osborne said the steps meant people could "make the right choices" and know that they are getting "good, independent guidance that is right for them".

Read: Pensioners to receive independent 'impartial' guidance

National

'Impartial' pensions guidance 'a real game-changer'

Millions of people will get free, impartial advice on how to make the most of their retirement savings under George Osborne's radical shake-up of the pension system. Pensions expert Ros Altmann, the Government's older workers' business champion, said:

The decision that guidance must be impartial and separate from the industry is a real game-changer and will help equip people to make the right decisions for them.

The challenge is now firmly with the industry to develop the products that people need, rather than simply the products they wish to sell.

– Ros Altmann, Pensions expert

Read: Govt to detail pensions overhaul with tax reforms

Minster says "right decision will be made" on Thames Crossing.

by David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

It's a route used by more than a hundred thousand drivers a day. The Dartford Crossing is one of the biggest pinch-points for the south-east road network. Today the Government said it will do a detailed study of two final options for a new crossing over the Thames.

But some debate whether it's needed. David Johns reports, speaking to Roads Minister Robert Goodwill and Thurrock Council leader John Kent (Lab).

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