Posted: Mon 27th Mar 2023

Nearly 100,000 prepayment energy meters forcibly installed last year, UK Government figures show

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Mar 27th, 2023

Over 94,000 prepayment meters were installed without customer consent in 2022, according to new figures released by the UK government.

Leading the charge with the highest number of prepayment meters force-fitted last year are British Gas, Scottish Power and OVO Energy, making up 70% of all forced installations with a total of 66,187 devices fitted under warrant.

Of these, Scottish Power tops the list as the worst offender when taking into account their customer base – force fitting over 24,300 in their customer’s homes in 2022.

Following an undercover investigation by The Times, which uncovered agents for supplier British Gas breaking into customers’ homes, including those of vulnerable households, the practice of forced installation drew significant criticism and caught the attention of the energy regulator Ofgem, which launched an investigation.

The practice has been described as “horrifying” by Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps, who has called on energy suppliers to compensate customers who were mistreated in this way.

Shapps said: “Today’s figures give a clear and horrifying picture of just how widespread the forced installation of prepayment meters had become, with last year seeing an average of over 7,500 force-fitted a month.”

“Prepayment meters are right for some people, so I do not want to ban them outright, but I do have concerns that companies have not been treating their customers fairly, over an already difficult winter during which the government has tried to help families by paying around half the energy bill of the average household.”

“After my calls for change, I’m pleased that suppliers have made their actions public and agreed to put a stop to forcing prepayment onto vulnerable customers for good – but this cannot happen again.”

“I will be watching Ofgem’s ongoing review closely so customers get the support they need – and those vulnerable consumers who have wrongly suffered forced installations get the justice they deserve in the form of redress.”

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

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

The survey revealed the devastating impact on individuals, including an army war veteran with PTSD and a family reliant on a medical device requiring mains electricity.

The campaign led to a debate in the Welsh Parliament, where Ofgem was criticised for the forced installation of prepayment meters.

The unanimous support for Mr Sargeant’s motion demonstrated a cross party stance in the Welsh Parliament against the forced installation of prepayment meters and their impact on vulnerable households.

The motion acknowledged the failures of Ofgem, which resulted in 600,000 people being forced onto prepayment meters in 2022.

The motion also highlighted the life-or-death nature of the issue and the stress and anxiety faced by affected families.

Supplier Number of PPMs installed under warrant in 2022
British Gas (Centrica) 25,000
Scottish Power 24,320
OVO 16,867
EON 10,220
EDF 7,240
Shell 4,145
Utilita 2,559
Bulb 2,091
Utility Warehouse 1,489
Tru Energy 101
Ecotricity 79
Good Energy 58
Octopus 32

 

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