Public urged to claim energy bills vouchers before June deadline

The government is urging UK energy customers with a prepayment meter (PPM) to redeem any unclaimed Energy Bill Support Scheme vouchers before they expire at the end of June. 

Claim Your Energy Voucher day takes place on May 31, and marks one month until unredeemed vouchers are due to expire. 

The government provided households across the country with £400 of energy bills support from October 2022 until March 2023 through the Energy Bills Support Scheme. For traditional prepayment meter customers, this support came in the form of vouchers delivered monthly by text, email or post.

Previous data revealed that in some areas of the country more than 1 in 20 payments were not delivered or claimed during the scheme. 

The latest government data shows that energy firms still owe £130m to households through unredeemed PPM vouchers. 

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented: 

“We’ve been calling on the government for some time to rectify this situation and ensure that every household receives the support that they are owed. 

“We are delighted that they are listening, and we urge every PPM customer to double-check that they received and redeemed their full £400 in vouchers during the scheme.” 

The Government advises that if customers have their vouchers already, they must take their ID and vouchers to a Post Office or Paypoint to redeem them before June 30.

​​Those on a traditional prepayment meters who have not received the vouchers, or are unsure of how to redeem them, or need a voucher to be reissued, should contact their energy supplier.

Households using prepayment meters who use alternative fuels such as LPG, heating oil or biomass as the main way they heat their homes also have until June 30 to use their vouchers worth up to £200 in energy bills support.

Other households who are due support through an “alternative method” (such as those in park homes or on care home complexes) have also to apply for the scheme, with the Mirror revealing that just 13% of eligible households had applied.

Forced PPM threats still a problem for vulnerable households

Energy companies are continuing to threaten households with warrants for entry to forcibly install prepayment meters (PPMs), despite a voluntary end to the practice coming into force in February 2023. 

BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme and the I newspaper has reported that energy firms who agreed to the voluntary ban are continuing to threaten households with forced installation. 

The forced installation of prepayment meters is especially a concern for vulnerable households, as changing to a PPM runs the risk of households having to suddenly stop using energy as the meter runs out of money, which can mean that these people will suffer the worst effects of living in cold damp homes during winter months. 

Desperate consumers have taken to social media asking for advice after they have continued to receive threats of court warrants for forced installation of prepayment  meters from their energy companies. 

Screenshots posted to an online group show email and post correspondence from debt collection firms and energy companies claiming that they will obtain a court warrant to forcibly enter their properties and install the meter. 

Many of the threats posted from energy companies are taken from emails and letters sent after the voluntary end to forced installation was imposed earlier in 2023. 

One woman based in Scotland complained that Scottish Power had failed to replace her faulty meter for three years, meaning that all of her readings during this time had been estimated. In screenshots of email correspondence, Conexus (employed by Scottish Power) insist that she must settle outstanding debt based on estimated readings or they will apply for a warrant of entry via the courts. The woman claims that the debt company has hounded her for some time and refused to discuss the matter with Scottish Power. 

Another couple who are vulnerable, receiving benefits and suffering from chronic health conditions, highlighted that their energy company OVO had failed to take their vulnerable status (and the fact that they are on the Priority Services Register) into account and had passed their case to a debt collection agency. This agency is now threatening to apply for a warrant for forcible installation of a prepayment meter in the couple’s home.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

“Energy firms are just not getting the message. The forced prepayment meters scandal should have been a wake up call as to how they treat their customers. But the evidence is mounting that this is not the case. It appears that they continue to threaten people with prepayment meters. This causes huge amounts of distress to often vulnerable households.

“It’s clear that the voluntary approach to banning forced prepayment meters is just not working and MPs must now act to bring in a legal ban to the practice through the Energy Bill.

“It’s no longer enough for MPs just to claim they support vulnerable customers. They need to take the action required to ban forced prepayment meters.”

Almost three-quarters of the public would back changes to the Energy Bill to ensure the Government introduces a legal ban to 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.

A recent investigation by the i paper found that in total over 13,000 warrants for entry have been issued by courts to energy firms since the voluntary end was introduced in February, with the Ministry of Justice unable to confirm why these warrants were granted. 

Courts continue to grant entry warrants to energy firms

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.

MPs urged to ban forced PPMs in Energy Bill

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 prepayment meters (PPMs), according to new figures from the Warm This Winter campaign.

Half of the public believe there should be a permanent ban of the forced transfer of households onto prepayment meters to ensure they pay off their energy debts, with a further 23% backing a ban while energy bills stay high.  [1]

The Energy Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons on 9 May, currently makes no provision for a ban. This is despite almost two-thirds (62%) of the public being very or somewhat concerned by the PPMs scandal which rocked the energy industry earlier this year. [2]

An investigation by the i paper revealed the extent to which energy firms were using the courts to gain warrants to enter people’s homes to force them onto PPMs. During the investigation, energy firms assured campaigners, ministers, MPs and the media that these meters were not used on vulnerable customers. However, The Times undercover investigation into British Gas’ use of PPMs proved this was not the case.

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:

“During the PPMs scandal, the Secretary of State claimed that he did not have the power to ban the forced transfer of households onto PPMs. We would urge politicians to give the Government these powers to safeguard the most vulnerable from this inhumane process.”

An amendment to the Energy Bill to give Ministers the power to ban forced PPMs has been tabled by Anne McLaughlin. The SNP MP for Glasgow North East chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prepayment Meters and commented:

“The energy firms have lost all respect for Ofgem and they’re running circles around them. If they do breach Ofgem rules, they’re happy to take a slap on the wrist and pay the fines.

“The 18th April Voluntary Code of Conduct to prevent the forced installation of prepayment meters doesn’t go far enough, so we need the power to properly regulate energy firms and safeguard vulnerable prepayment meter customers handed to the Secretary of State for Energy Security & Net Zero. 

“The Energy Bill gives us a unique opportunity to do this in legislation, and I’m urging the UK Government to back any amendment that will allow this to happen.”

Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Teverson, who attempted to introduce a PPM amendment during the Energy Bill’s earlier stages said:

“There is nothing more frightening than to have someone invade your home and force changes on how you run your life. 

“That is what having your energy meter changed to prepayment can mean for ordinary families already under stress from high energy costs. The Energy Bill could fix this if the ministers willed it.”

Labour MP for Liverpool Walton Dan Carden added:

“In the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for fifty years energy companies were breaking into the homes of impoverished and vulnerable customers. 

“It is clear that throughout last winter, energy companies felt as though they could act with impunity. Indeed, there can be few clearer examples of how our energy system is rigged against struggling families in favour of unscrupulous suppliers. 

“The Government must now use the Energy Bill to ban the forced transfer onto prepayment meters in order to protect families in the future from suffering the same inhumane practices. It is the Government’s decision to make.”

Plans for an amendment to the Bill to ban forced PPMs are backed by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition and the Warm This Winter campaign, which last week started a mass action to persuade MPs to support amendments that would help to improve Britain’s broken energy system.

Jonathan Bean from Fuel Poverty Action, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

“We were promised no return to the bad old days of forced PPMs.  But there is a serious threat of more trauma and suffering this winter unless a permanent ban is put in place. MPs need to act now to protect their constituents.”

Eva Watkinson from Debt Justice said:

“Forcing people in debt onto pre-pay meters adds to the shame, stigma and trauma that they often experience. This disgusting practice must now be banned by the government and unpayable debts written off. ”

Tessa Khan from Uplift added:

“The Energy Bill is back in the House of Commons, but right now, it’s a missed opportunity to start fixing our broken energy system.”


For more information, sources and background on the PPMs scandal visit 

Representatives from other political parties can submit their comments to for inclusion in the version of this story on the End Fuel Poverty Coalition website.

[1] 2,193 people interviewed online between 4-5 May 2023 on behalf of the Warm This Winter campaign. Results are weighted to be representative of the GB adult population. 

Question asked was “Do you think the forced transfer of households onto energy prepayment meters to ensure they pay off their energy debts should be banned?”

  • Yes – permanently (50%)
  • Yes – while energy bills stay high (23%)
  • No (11%)
  • Don’t know (16%)

[2] As above. Question asked was “media investigations revealed that energy firms were using court warrants to force homes to accept prepayment meters (PPMs) in their homes. How concerned were you about these revelations?”

  • Very concerned (36%)
  • Somewhat concerned (26%)
  • Neither concerned nor unconcerned (12%)
  • Not very concerned (7%)
  • Not at all concerned (9%)
  • Don’t know / haven’t heard about this (10%)

PPMs code of practice does not go far enough

Energy firms have signed up to a new code of conduct to govern the forced installation of prepayment meters.

The code has been described by Ofgem as a “new voluntary code of practice [which] is a minimum standard that clearly sets out steps all suppliers must take before moving to a PPM which will place a voluntary ban on forcibly installing prepayment meters in the homes of customers over 85 and will make representatives wear body cameras as part of a new code of conduct.”

However, a spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“This code of practice simply does not go far enough and the fact it is voluntary undermines its objective.

“There are really vulnerable groups which have been omitted from its full protection and we have serious concerns about how it will be implemented, such as how people will prove their medical conditions without being humiliated by an energy firm health inspection.

“The plans also fail to deal with the elephant in the room – the growing household energy debt mountain. According to figures from the Warm This Winter campaign 29% of the population is in debt to their energy firm.

“This was the Government’s opportunity to take meaningful action and introduce targeted debt relief for those most in need. It has failed to do so and seems to have given in to energy industry demands to let them go back to the bad old days of forcing prepayment meters onto customers in distress.”

Rachael Williamson, head of policy and external affairs at Chartered Institute of Housing responded to the announcement, commenting:

“This new code of practice is an important step forward in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable residents cannot have a prepayment meter installed in their home against their will. CIH welcome the code and Ofgem’s parallel focus on tighter enforcement and oversight, but we would like to see it go further and forbid forced installations in the homes of all vulnerable residents, not just those defined in the code as high risk.

“This is especially important for renters, who are more likely to be financially vulnerable or living with a cold-related illness, and who have borne the brunt of the cost of living crisis. We now need to see these changes incorporated into suppliers’ license conditions as soon as possible.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

“It’s good to see some regulation coming in to begin to rein in the practice of forcibly installing pre-payment meters (PPMs), which has previously been something of a Wild West, but these new rules do not go far enough.

“We don’t think any older person should be subjected to this treatment, not only the over-85s and the over-75s who are deemed vulnerable in some way, partly as a matter of principle but also because of concerns about how effective the assessment of vulnerability will be. The risk is that some older people – and younger people too – who should definitely not be on a PPM end up on one.

“Today marks an important first step but ultimately the sooner the practice of forcibly installing PPMs ends the better. In the meantime PPMs should only ever be used as a last resort.”

The Centre for Sustainable Energy also agreed that the moves do not go far enough, writing in a blog post:

“CSE advisors are hearing from more and more people in absolutely desperate circumstances every day. Keeping healthily warm is a basic human right and it’s wrong that so many people are struggling with cold homes and seriously worried about money.

“We urgently need a long term plan to fix our broken energy system. We need targeted support for people on low incomes. We need a strategy to improve homes so they so they don’t leak heat.”

Outreach to understand prepayment meter scandal launched

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.

Energy firms pre-payment response to Minister an insult to victims

Energy firms have only provided “half the picture” to the Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero after the Government asked all suppliers to set out how they are supporting their customers, how many warrants to forcefully enter peoples’ homes they have applied for and how they will make up for any wrongdoing.

Data from the Warm This Winter campaign suggests that as many as two-thirds of pre-payment meter households will contain elderly people, young children or those with a disability or long term health condition.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

The energy firms are trying to pull the wool over our eyes yet again and have failed to comply with the Government’s reasonable demand for information and details of compensation they will offer wronged consumers. This is an insult to the victims of the pre-payment meters scandal.

The truth is that they have invested time, money and resources in securing almost a million court warrants against households since 2020. Even if only a fraction of those are enforced this is still too many.  [1]

Every one of those enforcements involves the energy firm breaking into someone’s home to impose on them a pre-payment meter which is more expensive for that household than direct debit. They will also charge the household for the installation.

Over the last three years, figures suggest that those on pre-payment meters may have paid hundreds of pounds more per household than other customers. [2]

Advice received by the Coalition has highlighted four areas where there might be reason for further compensation. These are in relation to possible breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (articles 6 and 8), the Equality Act, trespass rules and breaches of contract / licence conditions. [3]

As well as compensation, campaigners have set out a five point plan which the Government must implement to address the pre-payment meter (PPM) scandal: 

  1. Move people off legacy PPMs more systematically (using data to identify PPM customers on the priority service register to move to faster smart meter rollout)
  2. Remove the premium paid by PPM and standard credit customers.
  3. Reduce standing charges for PPM customers.
  4. Address debt build up for PPM customers through a debt repayment matching scheme (funded through fines levied on energy firms for poor performance).
  5. Introduce wider reforms to make energy more affordable for PPM customers (such as introduction of a social tariff or free band of energy for all).

Calls for an inquiry into the scandal have also increased. 

In the House of Commons on Monday 6 February, Sir Robert Neill MP said that the scandal must indicate:

First, that the process itself is flawed and should not be continued and, secondly, that there must be an inquiry into not just the process itself, but the suitability of some of those who are representing the energy suppliers and Ofgem in court.

Either they gave misleading information by inadvertence or, potentially, they did so deliberately, which, on oath, amounts to perjury. That is a very serious matter which brings the court process into disrepute, and it needs to be investigated too.


[1] Official Ministry of Justice data revealed magistrates courts granted 920,855 warrants between Jan 2020 and Dec 2022 in England and Wales. Media reports suggest around 30,000 were granted in January 2023 in England and Wales. Media report 32,000 warrants were granted in Scotland in the first ten months of 2022.

[2] This winter every PPM household overpaid by £258 on average (Citizens Advice). PPM installation cost £150 (Ofgem). Equals basic overpayment of £408.

For households who have been on a PPM before October 2022, this basic level will increase based on how many years they have been on it, but someone who has been on a PPM since 2019, has over paid around £102 compared to a DD meter (winter 2019/20 £38, winter 2020/21 £28, winter 2021/22 £32). Total of £600

2019 is the starting point because that’s when Ofgem changed the rules to make PPMs much more expensive.

[3] Indicative advice received from Leigh Day Solicitors is not a formal legal opinion, but provided to help the Coalition discuss next steps in the campaign to help victims.

Council set to become first to debate pre-payment meters scandal

Norwich City Council will become  the first local authority to formally debate the pre-payment meters scandal.

Papers for the Council meeting on 31 January include a motion lodged by councillor Lucy Galvin.

The motion calls for the Council to continue its work to support vulnerable households on pre-payment meters and to urge the central government to do more to help.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has recently announced that the Government will ask energy firms to abandon the forced transfer of homes onto pre-payment meters.

However, Norwich political leaders will be asked to write to the minister to express their continuing concerns about recent investigations by the media which revealed energy firms have secured almost 500,000 court warrants to install traditional pre-payment meters.

With reports suggesting that many of these court applications are approved in bulk, the Council leaders will also be asked to write to Norwich Magistrates Court to ask what processes magistrates followed prior to granting energy firms warrants of entry. 

The motion goes on to call for more information about how magistrates could be sure these households were not classed as vulnerable and what sanctions magistrates can take if it is found that energy firms did not complete vulnerability assessments on customers before applying for a warrant. 

Cllr Lucy Galvin (Nelson ward, Green Party), commented:

Pre-payment meters could cost customers in excess of £200 more for their energy this winter and so the Council must use all communications methods at its disposal to explain, inform and continue to underline to residents that they do not have to accept a prepayment meter.

Council resources are stretched, but we also need to make extra attempts to ascertain which city council tenants have prepayment meters, especially those who might be at extra risk of being cut off, and monitor them to offer assistance, for example through housing officer and other support.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

3.2m pre-payment customers have been cut off from keeping themselves warm and sadly it is falling to councils to pick up the pieces caused by the delays in central Government action on this issue and the inadequate nature of support for vulnerable people.

Figures for the Warm this Winter campaign found that 64% of pre-payment meter customers are vulnerable, with 51% having health conditions or disabilities.

A third are now living in cold, damp homes posing a health risk to themselves and their families.

The fact is that none of these vulnerable customers should be on pre-payment meters in the first place.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition continues to call for a full ban on the forced transfer of customers to all kinds of pre-payment meters and a Government inquiry into energy firms practices around pre-payment meters. 

Other councillors wanting to use a copy of the motion to tailor to their own council area can find this online.

Government issues cease and desist order on pre-payment meters

The Government has finally responded to the long-running campaign to ban the forced transfer of homes onto pre-payment meters.

The weekend has seen further reports about the “murky” court process which leads to warrants being issued in a kangaroo court process. And in  media briefings on Sunday, the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps MP has set out steps to tackle the issue.

These include a call for suppliers to voluntarily end forced prepayment switching.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:
The Government’s cease and desist order to energy firms is a welcome move, but falls short of the full ban on the forced transfer of homes onto pre-payment meters which we need to see to protect the most vulnerable.
We also need to ensure that this voluntary approach covers the millions of people on smart meters, who must never be switched onto pre-payment mode without their active, informed consent.
Recent revelations about the role of the courts have also been left unanswered.
We need a full investigation to get to the bottom of the scandal quickly and ensure that if mistakes have been made, that those responsible are held to account and those that suffered are compensated.
The full detail of the Government plan is yet to be confirmed with Sky News reporting the Government will meet with Ofgem, energy suppliers and an advice charity next week.
Image: Shutterstock

3.2m pre-payment meter customers left without heat

New research has found that one person every 10 seconds ran out of credit on their pre-payment meter last year because they couldn’t afford to top up.

The findings put more pressure on the Government to act on the pre-payment meters scandal as a total of 3.2 million people across Great Britain were left without heat or light according to Citizens Advice.

In debates in Parliament this week, the energy and justice ministers were put under pressure on the issue of forced transfer of homes onto pre-payment meters. Caroline Lucas MP and Rachael Maskell MP both raised the issue in debates, while a Bill to ban the practice has been put forward by Anne McLaughlin MP.

Previous research for the Warm This Winter campaign found that a third of pre-payment meter customers are now living in a cold damp home.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, has rules that means certain groups, such as disabled people and those with long-term health conditions, should not be forced onto a prepayment meter. In October, Ofgem warned suppliers that not enough was being done to identify customers in vulnerable circumstances before installing a prepayment meter.

But Citizens Advice data reveals that in the month following Ofgem’s intervention more than more than 470,000 struggling households including a disabled person, or someone with a long term health-condition, were cut off from their energy supply at least once.

Citizens Advice also found that more than one in five (19%) prepayment meter customers were cut off in the past year then spent at least 24 hours without gas or electricity, leaving them unable to turn the heating on or cook a hot meal.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has been calling for a ban on the forced transfer of homes on to pre-payment meters. A spokesperson for the Coalition commented:

The staggering extent of the prepayment meters scandal is now clear. Energy firms and the Government should hang their heads in shame.

Magistrates who approved court warrants in bulk for energy firms to install prepayment meters should also reflect on their role in this injustice.

A full ban on the forced transfer of customers to prepayment meters, including via smart meter mode switching, is now the only acceptable course of action.

Citizens Advice has now joined the calls for a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections are introduced, ensuring households can no longer be fully cut off from gas and electricity.

The charity reports it has seen a 229% increase in the past year in the number of people coming for help who can’t afford to top up their prepayment meter.