Dear Jonathan Brearley,
Re: Ban on Prepayment Meters
I’m writing to urge you to implement a total ban on energy companies forcing prepayment meter (PPM) installations on customers until new protections are introduced, to ensure households can no longer be cut off from gas and electricity.
As you’ll be aware, the number of people being moved onto PPMs for debt continues to grow sharply. With energy prices still at unprecedented levels, this means millions are being forced to disconnect from power all together, with serious consequences for their health and safety. New Citizens Advice research shows that 3.2 million people across Great Britain ran out of credit on their PPM last year because they couldn’t afford to top up. That’s one person every 10 seconds cut off from their energy supply.
I’m particularly concerned about the impact of disconnection on disabled people and those living with long-term health conditions in my constituency. Frontline advisors at Citizens Advice have seen consistent evidence that suppliers are forcing people in vulnerable circumstances onto a prepayment meter, despite the existing rules in place to prevent this happening. More than a third of PPM households including a disabled person, or someone with a long term health-condition, were cut off from their energy supply at least once in the month of November. That’s more than 470,000 struggling households left in the dark.
Your commitment to launch a Market Compliance Review on prepayment meter practices is welcome, but so far voluntary commitments from suppliers haven’t been enough to protect households. A total ban on forced prepayment meter installations must be implemented until new safeguards are introduced. This ban must include legacy prepayment meters and remote switches for smart meters.
I know that representatives of Citizens Advice would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with you to discuss working together to ensure this ban is put in place.
Jeff Smith MP