Outreach to understand prepayment meter scandal launched

Ofgem logo and website

A nationwide call for evidence has been launched to ask energy customers to share their experiences of moving to a prepayment meter (PPM).

People can submit their experiences through an online form which is being hosted on Citizens Advice’s website and is open until Thursday 4 May 2023. A phone line (0800 464 3374) is also available to take evidence and consumers can also submit evidence via charities they may already be in touch with.

The eight-week programme of outreach is part of Ofgem’s market review of prepayment meters and remote switching, to ensure suppliers are meeting their legal obligations in protecting customers.

As part of the wider review, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition has also submitted a response to Ofgem’s consultation on protections needed to help protect energy customers.

In its response, the Coalition re-iterated its call for a legally enforceable ban on the forced transfer of homes onto a PPM (by court order or smart meter transfer) as the only acceptable solution to this abuse of power.

Despite the current voluntary ban being put in place by Ofgem and the Chief Justice, there are still reports of energy firms using the threat of a court order imposed PPM to intimidate households.

Until Parliament can legislate for such a ban, the Coalition argued in its consultation response that Ofgem must ensure that there is no return to forced transfer to PPMs until:

  1. The full PPMs Market Compliance Review has concluded and suppliers have implemented all recommendations. 
  2. Revised licence conditions have been implemented (to extend more protections to vulnerable households and extend the definition of vulnerability).
  3. Confidence is regained that suppliers have in place processes to follow the existing and updated rules set by Ofgem.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

It is vital that anyone with experiences of using a prepayment meter responds to Ofgem’s call for evidence.

Only by telling our stories of the abuses that have taken place are the regulators and MPs able to take action to demand compensation from energy firms and reform Britain’s broken energy system.

Next week the House of Commons Business and Justice Select Committees will hear evidence from key players in the prepayment meter scandal including a former magistrate, British Gas contractors and Ofgem.