The Utilities Intermediaries Association (UIA) is a not for profit trade body for UK third party intermediaries (TPIs) operating in the business energy and water sectors. Typically these organisations will be consultants or brokers and their agents, and provide a wide range of services from procurement, bill validation, query resolution and energy/water management in exchange for fees.
The UIA Code of Practice and Independent Customer Redress Scheme was established in 2006 following extensive industry-wide consultation with energy regulator Ofgem, the Office of Fair Trading (now part of the Competition and Markets Authority), energy suppliers and TPIs. It was formed in response to growing concerns that the actions of a few unscrupulous TPI's was damaging the reputation of the TPI sector as a whole.
TPIs signed to the UIA Code of Practice have committed to treating their customers honestly and transparently and to work to a high standard. Furthermore, members have agreed to adhere to any decisions that are made under the Customer Redress Scheme, should a complaint about their services be upheld. For business consumers, in employing the services of a UIA registered TPI, they have the assurance of knowing that sharp practices will not be tolerated.
The UIA Boat Mark is recognised as a guarantee of integrity, competence, and a consistently high standard of service.
Here you will find the most frequently asked questions, if there is something we have not answered please contact us.
Frequently asked questions
What is the UIA?
The Utilities Intermediaries Association is a Trade Assocoation for Third Party Intermediairies (TPI) facilitating business utility purchasing contracts between a supplier and a consumer
Who can join the UIA?
Any organisation that meets the requirements laid down in the Articles and Memorandum of Association
What is the Boat Mark?
The Boat Mark is the Approval Logo licensed to the UIA which denotes an organisation that has attained the standards to become a Full Member. Any Full member is listed on the Accredited Members page and is entitled to display the Accreditation Boat Mark.
How are TPI's paid?
TPI's are either paid directly by the customer for their services or indirectly via their energy bills issued by an energy supplier or water retailer. In the latter case, commission can take the form of an uplift on the unit rate and/or fixed amount buillt into the standing charge, some TPI's will use a percentage savings model.
What is the difference between a Consultant and a Broker?
Consultants tend to offer specialised on-going support to their client to help them reduce consumption and costs by maximising efficiencies. A broker tends to conduct a pricing exercise on behalf of their client when their contracts are due for renewal.
What is a Micro Business Consumer?
A Micro Business Consumer is a non-domestic consumer who meets one of the following criteria:
- employs fewer than 10 employees (or their full time equivalent) and has an annual turnover or balance sheet no greater than €2 million; or
- uses no more than 100,000 kWh of electricity per year; or
- uses no more than 293,000 kWh of gas per year.
Energy suppliers and water retailers must ensure they treat micro business consumers fairly with respect to billing, contracts, and customer transfers. Both Ofgem and Ofwat have produced guides to assist micro business consumers in understanding their rights which are listed in our Useful Links page.
What is a TPI?
A TPI or Third Party Intermediary is an organisation or individual that offers paid for advice and information which may help a consumer buy and manage their utility needs. Typically these organisations will be Consultants or Brokers or both.
As a business consumer, what protections do I have?
Businesses have some protections under general Consumer Law against high pressure selling or scams but are expected to seek legal support to pursue such claims (which can be time consuming and expensive). Additional protections are in place for microbusinesses (see Consumer Guidance for more detail), with energy suppliers and water retailers required by licence to treat this sector fairly. This obligation still applies even where a TPI is involved, and suppliers can be held to account for the failings of a TPI.
Who do I contact if I have a complaint?
If you have been unable to obtain a satisfactory resolution to your complaint with the relevant UIA Member, you can refer your complaint to the UIA by making the complaint in writing to: The UIA Board, PO Box 355, Tundbridge Wells, TN2 9ED or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All details of due process can be found within the Code of Practice page