Customers not paying by direct debit pay vastly more for energy

Fri,24 March 2023
News Housing
Following the recent news that Ofgem has “indefinitely” paused the forced installation of prepayment meters, the spotlight is now on another group of energy consumers that are paying over the odds. People who pay by cash, cheque or bank transfer have much higher charges than those who pay by direct debit.

This means that millions of energy customers are still paying more for their energy with many households paying £160 more, on average per year, than those who pay by direct debit . It appears those who pay via either cash, cheque, or bank transfer will miss out on In In the March budget, the Chancellor confirmed the end of the “Prepayment meter penalty" which signals the end of higher energy payments for PPM customers.

Confirming the new policy,  in the wake of the PPM scandal, Jeremy Hunt said that he “Will bring (PPM) charges in line with comparable direct debit charges.” adding that “The energy premium paid by our poorest households is coming to an end.”

The end of the penalty means that households on prepayment meters will no longer pay more for their energy than those on direct debits, which is good news for four million households.  However, those who use payment methods other than direct debit, will continue to pay vastly more.

Energy companies have always encouraged direct debit, as they are cheaper to administer. The energy providers can also average out customers usage over the whole year to set monthly direct debits, helping customers to budget and ensuring a regular income stream.  

Matt Copeland head of policy and public affairs at National Energy Action said "You should not have to pay more for your energy because you pay by cheque or in cash, on receipt of a bill. These are predominantly older, more digitally excluded households and should not face more than a hundred pounds of extra costs, simply because of how they pay.”

Dan White policy and campaigns officer at DR UK and one of the leads of the Disability Poverty Campaign Group said: “We welcome the announcement that PPM customers will no longer pay over the odds for their energy, but it isn’t right that those who use payment methods other than direct debit should pay more. Energy companies are recording staggering profits and should absorb additional administration costs relating to payment by cach or cheque, making the cost of energy fairer for their Disabled and older customers.”