Prepayment meters have been in the news a lot recently so what is the current situation?
The government has announced that prepayment prices will be brought in line with those paid by direct debit customers from 1st July, giving an average annual saving of £45.
Force-fitting of prepayment meters
In February 2023, an undercover journalist exposed the behaviour of debt collectors working for British Gas who were breaking into people’s home and force-fitting prepayment meters. It then emerged that courts were waiving through warrants to do this without giving any consideration to the vulnerability of the residents. There is currently a ban on companies force-fitting prepayment meters which has recently been extended beyond 31st March 2023 and will only be lifted “when and if” companies began acting in accordance with Ofgem’s new code of practice.
Having prepayment meters removed
You may be able to have prepayment meters exchanged for credit meters if you are not paying back debt. You may however have to pass a credit check and some companies may ask for a deposit.
Paying back debt
If you have debt on the meter, check how much the supplier is taking every time you topup – the minimum repayment amount is around £3.70 per week so if your company is taking more than that, ask the supplier if it can be reduced. There are also hardship funds that can help clear debts on energy accounts, including on prepayment meters.
Government support vouchers
All households have been getting £66/£67 per month from Oct 22 to March 23 to help with energy costs. If you’re on an old style prepayment meter then you will get a voucher in the post or by email. One in four of these vouchers have not been redeemed so if you haven’t yours, chase it up with the supplier prepayment.