PPM ban temporary as Ofgem prepares report on energy suppliers

Wed,22 February 2023
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The recent ban on the forced installation of Prepayment meters (PPMs) in the homes of financially vulnerable people is only in place until 31 March according to the regulator Ofgem.

The lifting of the ban is linked to the publication of the regulators review of the industry’s treatment of financially vulnerable customers on prepayment meters.

The ban on forced installations came in after investigations by the Times newspaper which found that bailiffs, operating on behalf of energy firms, were entering homes, and installing PPMs regardless of the households’ personal situation.

The announcement of a re-start of the practice comes as a new report by Citizens Advice Scotland warns about the spending choices PPM consumers are having to make because of paying upfront for energy. The report highlights personal stories that include a customer with mobility issues, emphysema, arthritis, and brittle bone disease struggling to keep up with the debt on her prepayment meter, while another customer whose power had been off for three days, had no money to buy food or top up his pre-payment meter.

Scottish Labour has called for a permanent ban on the force-fitting of PPMs, and its stance on this comes amid growing calls in Wales for an Inquiry into the energy scandal, while in England the Government is under pressure to make the current ban permanent.

The call for a ban from Scottish MP Anas Sarwar came on the same day that energy firm EDF Energy announced profits of £1.1bn and after Centrica, who own British Gas, said it had made a profit of £3.3bn.

These latest announcements coincide with the Department for Energy confirming that 24% of vouchers for consumers on prepayment meters in Great Britain remain unclaimed. The £400 vouchers, targeted at prepayment meter households, are paid in six monthly instalments of £66. However, many remain unclaimed meaning many households are not getting the financial support they are entitled to.

Dan White, Policy and Campaigns Officer at DR UK and one of the leads at the Disability Poverty Campaign Group which is helping lead a campaign against PPMs, said: “The nightmare of PPMs seems to be without end. It is obvious these units, forcibly installed, are causing misery and real hardship. Prepayment meters need to be banned permanently. How, after the public outcry, can Ofgem justify continuing this appalling practice? PPM installation has no place in the modern world.”

Help to push for a complete ban on PPM installations in financially vulnerable homes. Please write to your MP.