Large number of people with prepayment meters yet redeemed energy support vouchers
A large number of customers with prepayment meters have not yet redeemed vouchers to help with energy bills, according to the UK’s largest in-store payment company.
From 1 October, households should have begun to receive the first instalment of the government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme.
The £400 discount will be paid to consumers over six months with payments starting from October 2022, to ensure households receive financial support throughout the winter months.
Traditional prepayment meter customers should be provided with redeemable EBSS Energy Bill discount vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) from the first week of each month, issued via email or post.
Customers are able to redeem these at their usual top-up via a key or card last their usual point, including the 28,000 PayPoint locations across convenience stores, local newsagents and Post Offices across the UK.
Paypoint has told the BBC that only half of the expected value had been redeemed, it expected to process 800,000 vouchers in October, worth a total of £52.8m.
“However, the business said only £27m had been redeemed.” The BBC has reported.
PayPoint and fuel poverty charities are urging any prepayment customers to go through their post in case they have missed the delivery, particularly as the vouchers are only valid for 90 days.
Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, told the BBC: “It’s so important that everyone gets the support they’re entitled to.”
She called on customers to ensure their contact details were up to date and reach out to their suppliers if they had not heard anything on the assistance yet.
Customers do not need to apply for the assistance, but how it is paid varies by supplier and payment method.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business called on customers to have their credit applied to their meter as soon as possible so that they can benefit from the scheme.
Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at consumer group Which? said:
“With so many struggling to make ends meet during the cost of living crisis, it’s really worrying that hundreds of thousands of prepayment meter customers may not receive much-needed government support.
“Energy firms must ensure that customers on prepayment meters – who are more likely to be vulnerable and on lower incomes – are able to access government support and prioritise them in their smart meter roll-outs where appropriate, so that financial support can be delivered automatically.
“They must also ensure that their prepayment customers know that they’ll get the discount from the first week of each month in one of the following ways: as redeemable vouchers, sent by SMS text, email or post, or as an automatic credit when they top up at a top up point.
“If you are on a prepayment meter and haven’t received your voucher or are unsure of how to redeem it, you should get in touch with your supplier for more information and to make sure they have the correct contact details.”
This is what Citizens Advice website says about the vouchers:
You’ll get the discount as either:
- an automatic credit when you top up at your usual top-up point
- a voucher
Your supplier will tell you in advance how you’ll get your discount.
If you get an automatic credit but you can’t afford to top up, speak to your supplier. They might be able to send you a voucher.
If you get a voucher
Your supplier will send the voucher by text message, email or post by the 14th day of each month.
You can only use your voucher for your own energy accounts. But you might be able to choose to use it for gas or electricity – even if you have different suppliers for these.
Your supplier will tell you where you can use your voucher. You’ll probably need to take it to a local Post Office or shop with a PayPoint logo.
You’ll need to show a UK driving licence or utility bill with the same name and address as your energy account.
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