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Debt Experts Condemn Forced Instalment of Prepayment Energy Meters

Sharon McDougall - 17th April 2023 - 2 minutes to read

Debt help providers from Scotland are calling for an end to policies that see energy companies forcibly installing prepayment meters in their customers’ homes.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has made clear its position that those policies are making life much more difficult for people who are already “trapped in a perpetual spiral of debt”.

The charity, which provides debt advice to people across Scotland, has strongly condemned the use of prepayment meters (PPM) in general because they tend to worsen the financial difficulties of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

But CAS has been particularly strong in its criticism of policies that have seen representatives of energy companies forcing their way into people’s homes to install PPMs.

David Hilferty, CAS’ strategic lead on social justice, has said his organisation shared the “widespread sense of outrage” in response to news reports suggesting that energy companies are increasingly installing PPMs by force.

“For this practice to happen at any time would be appalling. For it to happen at the coldest time of year during an unprecedented cost of living crisis was unthinkable,” he wrote in an article for the Herald.

The energy sector regulator Ofgem is expected to take action soon that deters energy companies from forcibly installing prepayment meters, with CAS calling for a “permanent and outright ban” on the practice.

Mr Hilferty noted in his article that throughout Scotland there is a strong correlation between the use of PPMs and problem debt situations.

He said there is also a clear crossover between people who have no choice but to use prepayment meters and those who rely on food banks because they cannot always afford to feed themselves or their families.

Reflecting on the damage that PPMs can do, Mr Hilferty wrote: “People - often older, or with health conditions, or families with young children - are moved from a situation where energy costs can be smoothed out over time, to a situation where the costs must be met upfront. 

“Many people just don’t have that income upfront and available. That means no heating; it means no lighting; it means the fridge goes off; your food goes off.”

If you live in Scotland and you are struggling to cope with your personal debt problems then Scotland Debt Solutions can help. Contact us directly to arrange a FREE and confidential consultation.

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Sharon McDougall


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