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Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities has been announced among the first organisations to achieve BSI certification to the Inclusive Service Kitemark – demonstrating its commitment to supporting vulnerable customers.

The Kitemark provides assurance that Wales & West Utilities is providing an inclusive and flexible service that benefits all consumers, regardless of their personal circumstances.

The BSI Inclusive Service Kitemark focuses on protecting vulnerable consumers and the certified organisations’ have demonstrated compliance to the standard, BS ISO 22458 Consumer vulnerability – Requirements and guidelines for the design and delivery of inclusive service.

Nigel Winnan, Customer and Social Obligations Strategy Manager at Wales & West Utilities, said:

We are delighted to be one of the first nine organisations to have achieved certification to the new Inclusive Service Kitemark. It will help us to further build trust with customers and demonstrate that our services are fully inclusive ensuring everyone is treated equally.

We are especially proud as our certification covers our whole business, including our leadership team, back office, and operational workforce. Our colleagues are trained to identify customers who require additional support during our works and can refer them to our network of partnerships helping to tackle the cost of living crisis and ensure they are safe in their homes.

This certification demonstrates our continued commitment to reaching the most vulnerable people in society and do all we can to help them gain access to better support.

The Inclusive Service Kitemark has industry specific requirements which have tested the organisations’ processes with evidence they are meeting performance metrics in these areas. It provides a framework to help organisations and their employees understand the underlying factors involved in consumer vulnerability, and work to develop processes, implement services, collaborate with partners and look at new innovations to help overcome this challenge.

Additionally, the Kitemark aligns with regulators including Ofgem, Ofwat FCA, United Regulators NI and their strategies to drive organisations to do more to safeguard customers in vulnerable situations.

Topics covered include the identification of customer vulnerability, inclusive design of products and services are covered, as well as the adoption of AI (artificial intelligence) and data collection, protection and sharing to ensure that organisations are creating an inclusive service for all.

Natasha Bambridge, Global Consumer Promise Practice Director at BSI, said:

Amid the cost-of-living crisis, and the growing number of vulnerable adults living in the UK, protecting vulnerable consumers has never been so critical. The Inclusive Service Kitemark demonstrates an organisations’ ongoing commitment to offering an inclusive service for all at such a critical time.

All of the organisations that have achieved certification have demonstrated they understand the impact of consumer vulnerability and provide an inclusive and flexible approach to address it. Therefore, these organisations are better able to meet a diverse range of consumer needs, making it easier for consumers to access information, services and products, make good decisions and achieve positive outcomes.

To achieve the BSI Inclusive Service Kitemark, Wales & West Utilities was assessed by an expert auditor against the BS ISO 22458 standard and scheme requirements. This was a two-part assessment, which will involve a programme of ongoing surveillance now that certification has been achieved to assess continuing compliance.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we'll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We'll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

For more information, visit: https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/our-services/Inclusive-Service/