Courts have granted over 13,000 warrants allowing energy firms the right to force entry into homes and businesses since a voluntary end to the forced installation of prepayment meters (PPMs) was introduced in February 2023.
There are currently exceptions to the voluntary ban, meaning that energy firms still have the right to force entry to install prepayment meters on businesses and also to enter properties for safety purposes.
But the investigation by the i paper claims that the Ministry of Justice “does not keep data on why energy firms and their agents request warrants to force entry into properties.” Only two applications for warrants have been rejected by the courts since February.
The ongoing campaign to ban forced prepayment meters came after it was shown that energy firms were using the courts to gain warrants to enter vulnerable people’s homes to force them onto more expensive PPMs.
Energy firms have recently signed up to a new voluntary code of conduct, designed to govern the forced installation of prepayment meters. This is due to come into force from 1 October 2023, but the End Fuel Poverty Coalition argues that the guidelines do not go far enough, failing to protect highly vulnerable groups and failing to help to tackle rising energy debt.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:
“These figures should be sounding alarm bells for ministers, magistrates and at Ofgem. We need urgent clarifications on why these warrants were issued, and the process that energy firms followed to secure them.
“The public have had enough of this scandal and are calling for the government to act to bring in provisions for a ban on forced prepayment meters into the Energy Bill currently in Parliament.”
Almost three-quarters of the public would back changes to the Energy Bill to ensure the Government can ban the forced transfer of homes onto PPMs, according to figures from the Warm This Winter campaign.
An amendment to the Energy Bill has been tabled by Anne McLaughlin MP to bring in such a ban and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition urges all MPs to add their names to support amendments NC1 and NC2 during the committee stage of the legislation.