Toby Perkins MP and the Labour Party have called for an immediate moratorium for the duration of the winter on the forced installation of prepayment meters, which has left millions of people without power.
The Shadow Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband MP, has called for the Government to work with the regulator to ensure that energy companies immediately comply with a ban, raising this in Parliament and via a letter to in a letter to BEIS Secretary Grant Shapps.
Research by Citizens Advice has found that 3.2 million people across Great Britain ran out of credit on their prepayment meter last year because they couldn’t afford to top up.
Whilst protections are supposed to be in place to stop vulnerable customers being moved onto prepayment meters, there are serious concerns that not enough is being done by energy companies to identify customers in these circumstances before installing a prepayment meter, and that this is leading to a rise in ‘voluntary self-disconnections’.
Toby Perkins said, “I have been contacted by numerous constituents who have been forced on to prepayment meters. Labour raised an Urgent Question in Parliament and the Government’s response was utterly pathetic. The voluntary approach the Government have taken with energy companies is not working and is seeing vulnerable customers forced onto pre-payment metres and putting lives at risk. We need action now to force energy companies to comply and to protect vulnerable people.”
You can watch Toby’s question to the Minister here
Labour is calling for an immediate moratorium at least for the duration of the winter while an urgent review takes place of how customers on pre-payment meters can be properly protected, building on leading consumer affairs organisations calls for a long-term review of the treatment of users of prepayment meters.
Labour has already called for an end to the injustice that people on prepayment meters have to pay more for their energy than those on direct debits. The party has called for additional government support to individual households on prepayment meters, to level the playing field on the cost of electricity and gas for households.
Labour’s Shadow Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband MP, said:
“It is shameful that forced installation of prepayment meters is cutting off people’s heat and power, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
We need immediate action to halt this scourge of blackouts by the back door. Labour is calling for a moratorium to stop even greater misery this winter, while the government, regulator and energy companies get a grip on this problem, to tackle the hardship millions are facing.
“Rishi Sunak must not blame others for what is his Government’s dereliction of duty. He is standing by while families across the country are being cut off.
“Britain’s energy bills are too high and our energy system is too weak after thirteen years of Conservative failure. Only Labour can cut bills once and for all, with our plan to make Britain a clean energy superpower by 2030, and to deliver GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company producing cheaper, cleaner, homegrown power for the British people.”