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Campaigners call for ban on force fitting prepaid meters as companies resume installations

This news post is 7 months old

Ruling comes in the midst of winter and the cost-of-living crisis

New rules mean energy companies can resume force-fitting prepayment meters in people's homes nearly a year after it was suspended.

Energy suppliers were banned from force fitting the meters after they were found to be fitting them inappropriately.

Under the rules, meters should not be fitted when customers are over 75, unless someone younger also lives in the home; In households with children under the age of two; and if anyone lives there with a terminal illness or certain conditions which would get worse in a cold home.

Campaigners want a total ban on the force-fitting of prepayment meters. Such a ban would need to be introduced by government ministers.

Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: "It is outrageous that energy firms are seeking to use the courts to force people onto prepayment meters in the middle of winter.

"We still have grave concerns about the processes energy firms have in place for assessing vulnerabilities."

Data from Citizens Advice Scotland suggests more than 360,000 people in Scotland are worried about money owed to their energy supplier, with Ofgem urging customers to reach out to their supplier if they believe they will struggle to pay bills.

The charity said the number of people seeking energy debt advice from the CAB network rose by 34% from 2021/22 to 2022/23 and that on average the energy debt for those seeking advice is more than £2,300.

CAS social justice spokesperson Emma Jackson said: “Suppliers being given the green light for forced installations will add to significant worry people who are behind on their bills and in fuel debt already have. 

“Data from across the Citizens Advice network sees demand for advice in fuel debt rising, which the average debt being £2,307. People find themselves in debt because costs are too high and incomes are too low. That’s why we urgently need to see a social tariff in the energy sector.

“For some PPM customers, energy is viewed as a luxury they can only afford in the first week or two of the month, and they then go without until the next payday. Our CAB advisers see firsthand the very real toll that going without energy has on people’s physical and mental health. 

“We need a permanent ban on mandatory PPMs, whether that is physically installing them in people’s homes or remote switching a smart meter. 



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Peter Costello
6 months ago

As the Chief Executive of Money Advice Scotland, we fully support the campaign to ban the forced installation and remote switching to prepayment meters. The evidence is clear that such practices have a profound impact on the most vulnerable members of our society, particularly amidst the current economic challenges. The involuntary switch to prepayment meters not only places an undue burden on households already grappling with financial stress but, it also undermines their dignity and autonomy in managing their energy needs. We advocate for compassionate, fair, and sustainable solutions that respect the rights and circumstances of every individual, especially during these trying times. It is essential that we foster an empathetic and supportive approach in addressing energy debts, one that prioritises the welfare of people over rigid enforcement of policies.

You can read our official statement here:

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6 months ago

The utility companies are ahead of the game here. As they move towards building an amount in to the unit cost to cover bad debts there will be no need for prepayment meters..

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