Calls grow for changes to the Energy bill on Prepayment meters

Wed,10 May 2023
News Benefits Housing
Campaigners are asking that the Governments Energy Bill , which has its second reading in the House of Commons on the 9th of May, includes a ban on the forced transfer of homes onto prepayment meters (PPMs). The bill currently makes no provision for such a ban.

Almost three-quarters of the public would back this change to the Energy Bill, according to new figures from the Warm This Winter campaign. Half of the public believe there should be a permanent ban of the forced transfer of households onto prepayment meters to ensure they pay off their energy debts, with a further 23% backing a ban while energy bills stay high. 

Prepayment meters recently hit the headlines after the Times exposed the story that PPMs were routinely being forced-installed in homes by debt collectors, even though those who resided inside them were known to have extreme vulnerabilities.

Following this expose, the energy regulator Ofgem announced a new set of guidelines for utility firms on PPM installation which include amongst other rules that PPMs should not be installed for those aged 85 and over, those who are terminally ill, those with certain illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and sickle cell disease, and others who rely on powered medical equipment. 

However, many campaigning groups argue that new guidelines do not go far enough, saying that they fail to protect highly vulnerable groups and that more needs to be done to help tackle rising energy debt. 

An End Fuel Poverty Coalition spokesperson said “During the PPMs scandal, the Secretary of State claimed that he did not have the power to ban the forced transfer of households onto PPMs. We would urge politicians to give the Government these powers to safeguard the most vulnerable from this inhumane process.”

Dan White policy and campaigns officer at DR UK and one of the leads at the Disability Poverty Campaign Group said: “The notoriety of the issue of Prepayment meters refuses to go away, and rightly so. The reality is PPMs have had their day due to huge public disgust and the fact so many people have suffered because of the energy sectors cavalier and outrageous behaviour.

Group such as the DPCG and the End the Fuel Poverty Coalition will keep pressing the issue, as it is  plainly obvious to all that PPMs and their installations should be consigned to the past."

The Government must finally listen to us and the public and use the Energy Bill to ban forced transfer onto prepayment meters.”