Posted: Fri 6th Jan 2023

Jack Sargeant ‘disgusted at the scandalous charges’ energy firms charge to remove pre-payment meters

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 6th, 2023


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Prepaid meters have once again come under fire from Jack Sargeant, the Member of the Senedd for Alyn and Deeside.

Pre-payment meter (PPM) customers have historically paid more for their energy than customers paying by direct debit.

Jack has called for a ban on the installation of new prepaid meters, citing evidence that customers are being unfairly driven onto the higher-tariff meters, particularly those on lower incomes.

A Deeside resident got in touch with Jack to share their experience of trying to switch from a prepaid energy meter which requires customers to pay for their energy upfront rather than receiving a bill at the end of the month.

The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they were quoted £150 by their energy supplier to remove the meter.

Many customers, including this resident, seek to switch from prepaid meters due to their higher costs.

Jack said he is ‘disgusted at the scandalous charges’ and has called for reform and a ban on the installation of new prepaid meters.

Approximately 200,000 households in Wales use pre-payment meters for their mains gas and electricity.

This represents approximately 15% of all households and 24% of tenants in the private rented sector.

Almost half of social housing tenants also use pre-payment meters.

Many of these bill payers are on the lowest incomes yet are paying the highest tariffs for their energy.

The regulation of prepaid meters falls under the jurisdiction of the UK Government.

The Welsh Government issued a statement earlier this week outlining its concerns about the meters, saying there is clear evidence that customers are being unfairly driven onto prepaid meters.

In the statement, the Welsh Government said: “It is clear, especially in the middle of a cost of living crisis, that consumers should be able to get rid of their prepay meter. The cost of doing so should clearly be borne by the supplier”

Jack Sargeant has written to the UK Government calling for a ban on the installation of prepaid meters, both physically and via smart meters.

He said: “Prepay meters are not in the interests of consumers and they force some of our most vulnerable residents onto higher tariffs.”

“This is not out of choice people are forcibly switched over or move into rented properties where the meters are already installed.”

“Many of these residents want the meters removed so they can access cheaper tariffs.”

“It is completely wrong that the process is so difficult and expensive.”

Jack said: “It is clear, especially in the middle of a cost of living crisis, that  consumers should be able to get rid of their prepay meter.”

“The cost of doing so should clearly be borne by the supplier.”

“I will be raising this as a matter of urgency and have already written to the UK Government calling for an ban on the installation of prepay meters both physically and remotely via smart meters.”

Figures from YouGov, for the Warm This Winter campaign, reveal that 64% of pre-payment meter customers are vulnerable, with 51% having health conditions or disabilities.

Often they have limited credit in comparison with those paying by other methods, who have the option to go into arrears.

The findings suggest one in ten (13 per cent) prepayment meter customers have self-disconnected their supply by massively reducing their energy use

Self-disconnection happens when a consumer with a prepayment meter does not have enough money to top-up their meter and their meter cuts out, or when they do not realise that credit on the meter is running out.

 

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