Citizens Advice is asking the Government to implement a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections are introduced, ensuring households can no longer be fully cut off from gas and electricity.
Citizens Advice raised concerns back in October 2022 about the worrying practice of energy suppliers forcing customers who are struggling to afford their bills onto prepayment meters and we are now seeing the devastating impact of this up and down the country.
When customers struggle with their payments, energy suppliers are required to support them. This usually takes the form of a repayment plan, agreed between the supplier and the customer. However, as financial pressures grow, many are struggling to meet their ongoing usage, let alone payments towards arrears.
This is leading to an escalation of debt collection activity with suppliers forcing customers onto prepayment meters, so that they stop building up debt. But if a customer who is struggling to pay is put onto a prepayment meter, then they may not have enough money to top up their meter and their power is disconnected.
As a result, over 130,000 households, including disabled people and those with long-term health conditions, are being disconnected from their energy supply because they can’t afford to top up.
As well as a ban on forced prepayment meter installations, Citizens Advice is also calling for a review of all current users of prepayment meters, with a commitment to replace them with credit meters to remove the risk of disconnection.