Posted: Thu 23rd Mar 2023

Deeside politician leads Senedd debate recognising ‘national scandal’ of prepay meters

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 23rd, 2023


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Jack Sargeant, Member of the Senedd for Alyn and Deeside, led a debate in the Welsh Parliament, criticising energy regulator Ofgem for the forced installation of prepayment meters.

The motion received unanimous cross-party support, acknowledging the failures of Ofgem, which resulted in 600,000 people being forced onto prepayment meters in 2022, many of whom were vulnerable households.

In 2022, 3.2 million people were cut off from energy due to their prepayment meters running out of credit.

Citizens Advice reported a significant increase in the number of people seeking support because of these meters. Sargeant’s campaign against forced prepayment meter installation gained national attention after footage emerged of agents working on behalf of British Gas forcibly entering homes to install the meters.

Sargeant launched a survey in February to gather experiences from those affected by forced prepayment meters.

During the debate, he shared stories highlighting the devastating impact on individuals, including an army war veteran with PTSD and a family reliant on a medical device needing mains electricity.

Sargeant emphasised the life-or-death nature of the issue and the stress and anxiety faced by affected families.

North Wales MS and Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, Mark Isherwood (Con), also spoke in the chamber.

He referred to the UK Business Secretary’s letter to energy suppliers in January, urging them to stop forcing vulnerable customers onto prepayment meters and to help those struggling to pay their bills.

Isherwood mentioned Ofgem’s request to energy companies in February to suspend forced prepayment meter installations and the UK Government’s expectation of strong and immediate action from suppliers.

Isherwood shared Climate Cymru’s concern that the UK Government’s decision to bring prepayment energy charges in line with direct debit payments from 1st July does not affect standing charges, where the majority of prepayment meter costs occur.

He also stated that National Energy Action (NEA) believes in promoting energy efficiency measures alongside independent direct advice and assistance to vulnerable households to address fuel poverty.

The unanimous support for Sargeant’s motion demonstrates a united stand in the Welsh Parliament against the forced installation of prepayment meters and their impact on vulnerable households, serving as strong criticism of Ofgem’s role in allowing these installations to occur.

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