Debts Forcing Thousands to Use Pre-pay Energy Meters
May 27, 2015
Struggles with debt have seen thousands of households around the UK forced to install pre-pay energy meters in their homes in recent years, it has emerged.
While most energy consumers are able to pay for supplies after they’ve used them, a growing number are effectively being forced to pay upfront for their gas and electricity supplies.
In fact, figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live through freedom of information requests show that more than half a million prepayment energy meters have been forcibly installed throughout the UK over the past six years.
Some households prefer to pay for their energy in advance and volunteer to have pre-pay meters installed but many are apparently having the meters forced upon them after finding themselves in arrears to their energy suppliers.
Worryingly though for consumers who find themselves indebted to energy companies, the use of pre-pay meters can lead to overall increases in the amounts being paid annually for gas and electricity supplies.
“Prepay customers have been getting a raw deal for too long,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “They face a limited number of tariffs and pay on average £80 more a year on their energy bills than direct debit customers.”
The energy industry regulator responded to the revelations that some 97,000 pre-pay energy meters were installed in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 by saying it is working to “improve the experience of prepayment customers”.
“We want to make it easier for prepayment customers to switch supplier as this could help them better manage their bills,” Ofgem said in a statement.
Ofgem also explained that energy suppliers are obliged to carry out “checks for vulnerability” when seeking a warrant that legally allows them to forcibly install pre-pay meters in their customers’ homes.
“If for example the customer relies on energy for medical reasons, or has mobility problems that limit their ability to access the prepayment meter or top up the meter, the supplier is not allowed to install a prepayment meter,” Ofgem said.
According to the BBC’s figures, the installation of pre-pay energy meters peaked in 2013 when roughly 111,000 were added across England, Scotland and Wales.
When taking out a joint loan, there are many things you need to consider. Signing up to a joint credit agreement is a huge commitment and it’s important to ensure you have all the facts before signing on the dotted line. While no one wants to think about a relationship breaking down, the truth is […]
If you’re looking to save some money it’s a good idea to make a detailed budget that lets you see where your cash is currently being spent, and offers an overall view of your finances. You’ll need to collect together your income and expenditure details, including annual costs such as insurance, car expenses, birthdays and […]
A trust deed is a common debt repayment programme based around a voluntary arrangement made between you, your creditors and a qualified independent trustee who takes control of your debt repayments for a typical period of four years. If you’re having difficulty paying your debts and have assets or a regular income, you may qualify […]
If you have built up debt from gambling, you may be able to write off part or all of the debt via a formal Scottish insolvency route. Not all insolvency solutions allow debts to be written off, but you may be eligible for a trust deed if you meet certain criteria, with sequestration also being a possibility […]
Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) is one of the biggest creditors in Scotland, and indeed across the rest of the UK. Millions of people make payments to the government through HMRC in the form of income taxes, National Insurance and VAT every year. For the majority of people in employment, this is done automatically […]
Council tax is a charge levied on residential property and payable to the local council. While some properties are exempt from paying council tax, most households must factor this bill into their monthly budget. Households will be given a yearly charge which can then be broken down into a series of monthly instalments throughout the […]