We have made updates to our procedure for booking in engineer visits to properties, based on government guidance.
Where a Switch2 engineer is booked to attend a customer property the following steps should be adhered to in order to achieve a suitable level of protection for the employee and the resident(s):
Switch2 will speak to the household to establish any COVID-19 related risk. This information will be recorded.
The engineer will also contact the resident to enquire whether there have been any changes in circumstance since the appointment was made.
Depending on the response to the COVID related questions there are a number of steps:
- If the resident answers yes to any of the questions and the visit is not to carry out emergency/urgent works then the resident will be advised that we must postpone the job to a later date in line with official guidance.
- If the resident answers yes to any of the above questions and the visit is to carry out emergency/urgent works, the job can still go ahead but with extra caution and vigilance whilst in the property.
We will also be considerate of shielding, isolating and vulnerable customers.
All services are fully operating. We are operating as per government guidance surrounding Covid-19 measures.
Following careful consideration and planning Switch2 has now re-opened up all remaining work streams to include all non-essential works, project sites and planned maintenance cycles.
Our engineers are to follow a strict procedure in line with social distancing and they will also be fully equipped with the appropriate protective equipment.
We are currently only responding to urgent calls and emergencies for heating, water and leaks.
We have now allocated additional technical triage personnel to assist customers in trying to rectify issues remotely, where possible.
We have made the decision to stop carrying out any non-emergency work. This includes non-essential upgrades, projects, commissioning etc.
We are working hard to keep our services running as smoothly as possible in all other areas.
- We have prioritised emergency call outs (any problems with water, heat or leaks). All non-essential maintenance has been put on hold.
- We are focusing on remote diagnosis and support where possible to be able to respond to issues without having to send out engineers.
- We have a well-resourced engineering team and contact centre. However, demand is extremely high at peak times so please try to call at off peak times or e-mail non-urgent enquiries, where possible.
- For emergency call outs safety for staff and residents is our priority. Engineers have protective equipment and have been trained in social distancing and how to operate safely in a property and whilst in transport.
- It is vital we are made aware if a resident is self-isolating before we attend the property so the appropriate safety measures can be put in place.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23/03/20, we can confirm that our services are still operating well, as outlined previously. We have a well-resourced engineering team and contact centre. However, demand is extremely high at peak times so please try to call at off peak times or e-mail non-urgent enquiries, where possible.
We have prioritised emergency call outs (any problems with water, heat or leaks). All non-essential maintenance has been put on hold.
Safety for staff and residents is our priority. Staff have protective equipment and have been trained in social distancing and how to operate safely in a property and whilst in transport.
It is vital we are made aware if a resident is self-isolating before we attend the property. We also need to know if this has changed since the appointment was booked. For example, if when the appointment was booked the resident wasn’t self-isolating, but since then they now are self-isolating, we must be informed of before the appointment is carried out.
Switch2 are at an advanced stage in our contingency plans to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and residents and how we plan to manage the services to our clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Switch2 intends to work in line with the approach of other utility suppliers as outlined in the Government’s press release published 19/03/20: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-energy-industry-to-support-vulnerable-people-through-covid-19
Below we outline our specific approach to delivering services to customers, with particular attention to vulnerable customers.
For customers on PAYG we are following these steps:
- We recommend clients advise residents who are vulnerable or self-isolating to seek help from family or friends to assist with top up payments.
- Register online switch2.co.uk to be able to top up
- If a vulnerable resident is self-isolating, cannot access the shop, has no one to assist them and no access to a debit card or internet, the client can give Switch2 authority to apply a set value loan to any vulnerable resident without having to seek initial approval from the client. Please speak to your Switch2 Account Manager if you wish to set this up.
For customers on credit billing we are following these steps:
- To ensure no resident is without heat or hot water we have suspended disconnections
- We commit to supporting customers through this time with flexible payment options available.
We have taken the necessary steps recommended by Public Health England to protect our employees and our customers to ensure that we continue to provide heat network services with the minimal of disruption.
With the rapidly changing situation, Switch2 are still responding to urgent calls, emergencies and a reduced element of planned works. Domestic planned maintenance work has been de-prioritised.
Where our engineers are accessing properties to complete a repair or replace equipment, we are asking residents to let us know if they are currently self-isolating prior to arranging an engineer’s visit.
Our engineers have been briefed on recommended best practice hygiene factors and will work with the resident to ensure that they are minimising any risk to them or themselves during their visit to the property.
We have increased vigilance in this area as the situation worsens, engineers are now calling ahead to residents and checking the status to make sure we are prepared and safe. We are constantly reviewing safety measures.
We are currently responding to issues within agreed response times.
Contact centre availability
In order to protect our staff and ensure continuity of service we have now fully deployed home working for all staff in these critical teams. They are operating as normal with full access to systems and records. Currently we have good response times and we endeavour to maintain our high service standards.
To help us focus on the urgent and emergency calls we kindly ask for all non-urgent requests for information to be emailed across to us to free up the phone lines for urgent requests.
Lockdown situation in an area
If the situation increases and any lockdowns are enforced, Switch2 will follow these steps:
- Encourage residents to set up to online account which enables them to make payments to ensure their heat is unaffected. The customer website is switch2.co.uk
- If the resident’s standard route to top up is PayPoint (shop) and they have no internet access, Switch2 will be issuing a one off £20 credit to residents who contact us and make a request. The loan will be deducted from any future top-up at 20% a time (20 pence in a £1)
- If you require an alternative arrangement for your residents, please contact your Switch2 account manager to discuss further.
If a resident receives bills electronically they will be unaffected. Log in to my.switch2.co.uk to access electronic bills and further information.
If they currently receive paper bills, we recommend they set up an online account. We will be uploading an electronic version onto our customer portal. This can be accessed via the website my.switch2.co.uk and residents will need their customer reference number which can be viewed on the top right hand corner of a previous bill.
Responding to heat outages and critical maintenance activities
- The government has confirmed that workers involved in carrying out critical services will be able to continue to attend sites for outages and critical maintenance activities.
- We are currently engaging with the government via our industry body the Association of Decentralised Energy to ensure heating is maintained to customers on heat networks.
- We will endeavour to respond within SLAs where possible.
With the worsening situation there is increased risk that our workforce may be depleted in numbers. We are working on contingency plans to address this should it occur and will update you in due course.
Taking the steps above we are confident in our operations facing minimal interruption at this time. However, we understand the situation is changing rapidly and we are reviewing our processes as required. We will be in contact with any relevant updates.
If you have any questions or concerns during this time, please contact your Switch2 Account Manager.