Who are Northern Gas Networks and what do they do?
Northern Gas Networks is a company governed by Ofgem, the energy regulator. We are responsible for maintaining, servicing, and upgrading the vast network of underground gas pipes throughout the North East, northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire. Although we don’t source the gas, fix boilers and appliances, or get involved with plumbing, we do work with those that keep your gas supply flowing to your home.
We are also responsible for providing a fast and efficient emergency response if you smell gas or if you unexpectedly lose your gas supply. Every time you pay your monthly gas bill a part of it goes to us so we can provide these services. You can watch our short film to find out more – just click the play button at together.northerngasnetworks.co.uk.
As you don’t have a choice about who owns the underground pipes and transports gas to your home it’s essential that we understand your needs in order to provide you with the best service possible.
What will the Panel involve?
The Customer Insight Panel will bring together customers like you to help us find the right balance between the price you pay and the services we deliver. We need to make sure that our services meet your needs at a price that is fair for everyone. For example, do you think you are paying too much for access to the gas network? Or would you be willing to pay more knowing that response times to a gas emergency could be reduced? These are the sorts of questions we want to discuss with you.
The 50 members of the Customer Insight Panel will spend time together learning about the issues, sharing their views and discussing options in facilitated small groups. The Panel will be run by an independent organisation called Involve, which specialises in creating opportunities for people to contribute to decision-making on issues that affect them.
There is absolutely no requirement for you to have any prior knowledge of the topic. All the information you need to take part will be provided during the Panel in an interactive and easy way. We promise that you won’t have to read a bunch of technical reports!
Towards the end of the three Saturdays you will be asked to consider everything you’ve heard, learnt and discussed and work with the other Panel members to come up with recommendations for how Northern Gas Networks can best deliver their services at a price that is fair for everyone.
Why convene this Panel?
There are some future planning decisions for a company like ours where there are no simple ‘right’ decisions. Instead many decisions involve making a trade-off between different priorities. We want our customers to be involved in the discussions leading to these decisions.
This Panel is specifically designed to make it easy for people like you to become involved. We want to find out what you think, after you’ve been given access to balanced and in-depth information about the issues and have had the opportunity to discuss your opinions with other customers.
It should be an interesting – and, potentially, even fun! – experience. We hope that you’ll want to stay in touch with us in the future.
When and where will the Panel be held?
The Panel will meet at a conference venue in central Leeds on Saturday 23 March, Saturday 6 April and Saturday 27 April, from 10am-5pm. You must be able to attend all these three dates for the entire time.
Who can register their interest in joining the Customer Insight Panel?
To register your interest you must: (i) be an adult, permanent resident of England living in a household that has received this invitation; and (ii) be responsible, at least in part, for paying your household gas bill.
The following people cannot register their interest: (i) employees of Northern Gas Networks, or their immediate families; (ii) any Local Authority councillors or Members of the UK Parliament.
Every adult in your household who meets the above criteria can register his or her interest.
How accessible will the Panel be to people with special needs?
We will do all we can to make the Panel accessible to everyone. The venue will be wheelchair accessible and people selected to be on the Panel will be contacted individually and asked if there are any specific measures that could be taken to support their participation (e.g. the availability of hearing loops or BSL interpreters, the provision of childcare or respite care for those with a caring responsibility, or specific dietary requirements). If you wish to discuss your particular needs before registering your interest please contact us on the number below.
How was I selected to receive this invitation?
Your household was one of 5000 households randomly selected from Royal Mail’s address database from the relevant areas of northern England.
How do I register my interest in joining the Customer Insight Panel?
To register your interest please visit www.sortitionfoundation.org/rsvp or call Freephone 0800 009 6486 (9am-9pm, Monday-Sunday). The deadline for registering is Monday 4 March.
The Sortition Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of stratified, random selection in decision-making. Our aim is to ensure that the Customer Insight Panel is broadly representative of the community.
After I register my interest, what happens next?
Once registration has closed, we will select 50 people at random to join the Customer Insight Panel. This selection will be weighted to make sure that the final Panel is broadly representative of the entire community.
If you are selected we will contact you by phone during the evening of Tuesday 5 March, and subsequently by email and/or letter to provide you with further information. We will then be back in touch to let you know more about the Panel, organise travel and accommodation arrangements (if required) and discuss any dietary or accessibility requirements you may have.
If you are not selected, or cannot join the Panel for any reason, we’d still love to know what you think of the services that we provide. You can do this at any time by completing our short survey at together.northerngasnetworks.co.uk.
What will happen after the Panel?
As part of the Panel, we will record your ideas and recommendations. Together we will produce a report containing recommendations on how you think Northern Gas Networks can find a fair balance between price and service. Northern Gas Networks will carefully consider your recommendations and use them to inform their future business plan from 2021 - 2026. We promise to let you know what actions are planned as a result of your recommendations.
Where can I get more information?
If you’d like to talk to someone about joining the Panel before registering, please call Melanie Taylor, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Northern Gas Networks, on 07849 094922. To find out more about opportunities to get involved and help shape the future of your gas network visit together.northerngasnetworks.co.uk.