It is shameful that the forced installation of prepayment meters is cutting off people’s heat and power, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I believe it is well past the time for action to halt energy companies cutting people off by the backdoor.
Unfortunately, I believe the UK Government has been far too slow to act on this issue. It has been clear for some time that we need a ban on the forced installation of prepayment meters, at the very least for the duration of this winter. Ofgem reviewed the issue in September and November and highlighted the problem. In early January meanwhile, Citizens Advice reported that three million people on prepayment meters had been disconnected. Yet even after this, the Business Secretary refused to put in place a ban. As a result, in January 33,000 people had warrants issued for forced installation of prepayment meters. Indeed, over 6,000 warrants were issued to energy companies in the week after the Business Secretary had written to them asking them only to use forced installations as a last resort.
Now that a pause on forced installations has been put in place, I believe the UK Government needs to make clear how long it will last. At the very least, it needs to pledge that it will not be lifted until the current broken system is properly reformed. I also believe it needs to look at the case for energy companies to have to supply a minimum amount of power to all customers – as is the case in France, and as we do for water in this country. Furthermore, it should act to end the injustice that people on prepayment meters have to pay more for their energy than those on direct debits.
I recently pressed the UK Government on this issue using formal written questions, which you can see below:
I also recently asked 3 written questions on what the UK Government are doing to ensure people are getting their energy vouchers, which you can see below: