Ofgem has launched an investigation into the customer service processes of Iresa, one of the country’s smaller independent energy suppliers.

The UK energy regulator said the investigation would examine whether Iresa broke rules relating to “customer information and customer contact”.

The investigation comes amid growing pressure on Ofgem to toughen the licensing rules for new suppliers. There are now more than 60 independent suppliers that are challenging the dominance of the ‘Big Six’ such as British Gas, but concerns have been growing about the long-term viability of some of the smaller operators after a number stopped trading earlier this year. Ofgem has said it is considering the timing of a wider review of its approach to awarding supply licences.

Concerns about a high level of complaints against Iresa were raised with Ofgem through Citizens Advice and the regulator’s consumer affairs team, the regulator said on Friday.

Which?, the consumer association, also reported customer concerns about Iresa at the end of January, noting that they had had reports about people facing a surprise direct debit increase or a one-off payment of hundreds of pounds.

Ofgem said the investigation would examine whether Iresa treated customers fairly in their call handling and complaints processes, gave indebted customers sufficient notice that they were taking a debt repayment out of their account, or established with these customers their ability to pay the debt.

The opening of the investigation “does not imply that we have made any findings about non-compliance by Iresa,” Ofgem stressed.

Iresa was unavailable for comment.

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