Posted: Fri 3rd Feb 2023

Deeside politician welcomes Ofgem’s decision to stop energy firms forced meter installations

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 3rd, 2023

Deeside politician Jack Sargeant has welcomed Ofgem’s decision to ask energy firms to immediately halt the forced installation of prepayment meters calling it “long overdue.”

The move follows an investigation by The Times, which revealed that agents hired by British Gas broke into the homes of vulnerable customers to install the meters.

Undercover reporters working for Arvato, a company contracted by British Gas to collect debts, witnessed debt agents breaking into the home of a single father with three young children and switching it to a prepayment meter.

The same agents were seen forcing the installation of a meter at the home of a young mother with a four-week-old baby. Other cases included a woman with bipolar disorder, a partially sighted woman with mobility problems, and a mother with a disabled daughter.

Chris O’Shea, the CEO of Centrica, which owns British Gas, has expressed horror at the revelations and has suspended the forced installation of prepayment meters until after the winter.

Ofgem has now asked all energy suppliers to suspend the forced installation of these meters and review their processes for dealing with customers in arrears.

Jonathan Brearley, CEO of Ofgem, has warned all domestic energy suppliers to take their responsibilities seriously, especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable customers.”

He has asked suppliers to reassure Ofgem that their processes are compliant with all regulations and to pause forced interventions until they are satisfied that vulnerable customers are protected.

Brearley has also asked suppliers to examine their relationships with third-party contractors and to review incentives that could result in poor behavior.

Welsh Parliament member Jack Sargeant has been calling for a ban on the installation of these meters for months but claims that the UK government has failed to act, leaving thousands of vulnerable people at risk of being cut off.

Sargeant is now calling for Ofgem and the UK government to address the issue and ensure that energy suppliers are properly supporting vulnerable households as the cost of living continues to rise.

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