Deeside politician calls for ‘complete halt’ to new installations of pre-pay energy meters
A Deeside politician has called for a complete halt in the installation of new pre-pay meters and for UK Government intervention to support those already on pre-pay meters.
Alyn and Deeside Senedd Member Jack Sargeant has said he is “deeply concerned” that energy companies are switching customers simply because they are in debt and that this will lead to people going without heating and electricity.”
He is also angry that the energy suppliers charge pre-pay customers more than those that pay by direct debit.
Jack raised the matter with Welsh Government Minister Rebecca Evans and gave a stark warning in his question – he said that forced switching of customers to pre-pay meters is a matter of life and death.
He has called for the UK Government to put in place a complete moratorium on the installation of prepay meters.
Jack said: “Energy companies forcing their way into to owners’ homes and imposing the installation of pre-pay meters is nothing short of a complete disgrace. This abhorrent practice must end immediately. As should them using smart meters to digitally switch customers.”
“This is life or death in a cold winter in midst of a cost-of-living crisis nobody should installing meters that charge the poorest more. I am calling for a complete moratorium on their installation.”
Jack said: “It’s clear that finances are under real pressure. Services will be stretched in every direction possible, but the need to react to growing levels of poverty will be extremely tough.”
“Who would have thought it, just even a year ago—one year ago—that we would be talking about warm banks being delivered by local councils across Wales, in every single one of our communities across Wales and the United Kingdom?”
“Minister, amongst other things, the very existence of pre-pay meters will drive the demand for these warm banks. People are being switched to pre-pay meters and driven further into poverty.”
“Perversely, they ensure that those least able to pay pay more for their energy, and they are only in the interests of the energy company profits and debt collection.”
“Minister, this really is life and death in a cold winter. Do you agree with me that there should be an immediate moratorium on their installation, and that the UK Government should send a strong message to these energy suppliers about the very dangers of people being de facto disconnected every time they run out of credit?”
In response, Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans said: “Yes, I absolutely agree: the UK Government does need to be using all of its influence on the energy companies to reduce the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the most vulnerable people.”
“And just to reassure the Member—and I could hear a lot of support for what he was saying from others in the Chamber—that the Minister for Social Justice has met with energy suppliers earlier this month, and she did press them on this particular issue.”
“And she has also previously sought and been given assurances by energy companies that arrangements were in place to reach out to households that were struggling with energy bills.”
“And they did recognise the need to build in appropriate mechanisms of support, based on people’s ability to pay, such as writing off short-term energy debt, agreeing affordable repayment plans, based on the ability to pay, and, where appropriate, referring households to schemes to improve their energy efficiency and reduce bills.”
“So, I think now we need to be pressing energy companies to demonstrate what they’ve done in response to those discussions.”
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