Britain’s leading energy firms are sitting on a multi-million pound cash stockpile which is earmarked for customers under the Energy Bills Support Scheme which finished in March.
According to figures reported in the Mail on Sunday, over four million monthly payments of £66 or £67 had still to be made to or redeemed by households for the period October 2022 to February 2023. Figures including March payments will be available later this month.
The value of these missed payments stacks up to almost £280 million, with half owed to customers on traditional prepayment meters who have not cashed in 2.1m vouchers issued by the firms.
While there are no suggestions of wrongdoing – as any money not paid out to consumers will be returned to the Treasury – the revelations highlight the problem of energy firms not passing the EBSS payments onto people who will be in desperate need and that spent the winter in cold damp homes.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, commented:
“In some cases, energy firms have been far too slow to pass on these vital funds to customers who may have spent the winter living in cold damp homes.
“While many millions of households have had their payments issued with no problem, the figures around pre-payment meter voucher redemption are particularly worrying. These customers are often among the most vulnerable and have been paying more for their energy in the first place.
“Energy firms need to up their game significantly to end this breakdown in customer service and help get the Energy Bills Support Scheme to those who need it.
“If a customer believes they are missing a payment or a voucher for their prepayment meter they should contact their energy supplier as soon as possible as payments can still be made and vouchers can be reissued.”
The Government also issued figures under Freedom of Information rules to The Times suggesting that the number of prepayment meter vouchers still to be cashed in now stands at 341,000. However, the official published data suggests that this figure is the number of prepayment meter vouchers that have been paid to energy firms but have yet to be delivered to households, rather than the number not redeemed by customers.
Energy firms told the Mail on Sunday that would also urge customers to claim the payments.
The full data set is available to download: MoS EFPC CALCULATIONS