Proposed approach to Best practice framework programme

Published date27 January 2022
Energy SectorCorporate
Best Practice Framework
Proposed approach to delivery,
content, monitoring and reporting
About the Utility Regulator
The Utility Regulator is the independent non-ministerial government department responsible
for regulating Northern Ireland’s electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries, to promote
the short and long-term interests of consumers.
We are not a policy-making department of government, but we make sure that the energy and
water utility industries in Northern Ireland are regulated and developed within ministerial policy
as set out in our statutory duties.
We are governed by a Board of Directors and are accountable to the Northern Ireland
Assembly through financial and annual reporting obligations.
We are based at Queens House in the centre of Belfast. The Chief Executive leads a
management team of directors representing each of the key functional areas in the
organisation: Corporate Affairs, Markets and Networks. The staff team includes economists,
engineers, accountants, utility specialists, legal advisors and administration professionals.
Consumer impact
The Best Practice Framework (BPF) project was identified as the flagship project within the
Utility Regulator’s Consumer Protection Programme (CPP). However since its inception, the
BPF project has evolved and widened in scope to include multiple outputs and routes for
delivery and so will be delivered as a programme in conjunction with the CPP in order to
ensure positive outcomes for all consumers. This document outlines the Utility Regulator’s
proposed approach to the delivery, content, monitoring and reporting of the BPF programme.
The approach proposes the development of a new mandatory Code of Practice for
consumers in vulnerable circumstances which will apply to both utility suppliers and
Distribution Network Operators in the three regulated sectors in Northern Ireland (NI). In
order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers, we are proposing a hybrid approach
for the new Code, consisting of a combination of a set of high level principles that are then
supported with more specific required measures’ (consumer protection measures to be
implemented by the regulated companies). The aim of this document is to seek stakeholders
views on the proposed approach. This feedback will be used to inform the development of
the draft Code of Practice which will be included in a consultation paper in Spring 2022.
This document is most likely to be of interest to regulated companies in the energy and water
industries, consumer organisations and representatives, community and voluntary
organisations, natural gas, electricity and water consumers, government and other statutory
The Best Practice Framework (BPF) programme will address the current gaps in the service
provision for utility consumers in vulnerable circumstances within NI and ensure they are
identified, adequately protected, and receive an appropriate level of support from the three
regulated sectors. The BPF programme will in tandem refine and refresh the existing
regulatory framework to ensure it is fit for purpose and reflective of best practice exemplars
seen in Great Britain, and across other regulated sectors.

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