Concern over rise in households being switched onto prepayment meters


Charities sound the alarm over rise in households being switched onto prepayment energy meters

Campaigners have sounded the alarm over a rise in households being switched on to prepayment energy meters.

Prepayment plans mean customers are required by their supplier to top up their accounts themselves — leaving them at risk of blackouts if their balance runs low.

The system benefits energy firms as it eliminates the risk of households running up large debts which cannot be paid back.

Blackout fears: Charities and trade bodies are concerned suppliers are abusing their powers by remotely switching customers with smart meters onto prepayment plans

But charities and trade bodies are concerned suppliers are abusing their powers by remotely switching customers who have smart meters without consent.

Some 450,000 households could be switched this winter, estimates charity Citizens Advice. Around 180,000 of these are expected to be done via a smart meter.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of campaigning body National Energy Action, says: ‘Ofgem must come down like a ton of bricks on suppliers switching households onto prepayment plans remotely. This should be an absolute last resort.’

Campaigner Giovanna Speciale, of South East London Community Energy, says: ‘If your supplier asks you to do this you should very clearly say you do not consent.’

It comes as the Government admitted millions of households with prepayment meters could be left waiting for their energy discounts this winter.

Every household is entitled to a £400 rebate, with payments spread into £67 discounts over six months.

The sum is automatically applied to accounts except for those on traditional prepayment meters. 

These households must redeem the vouchers at their usual top-up point, such as a Post Office branch.

h.kelly@dailymail.co.uk

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