Figures issued by OFGEM – the UK gas and electricity market regulator – have revealed that 97,000 pre-payment meters (almost always installed in the homes of fuel-poverty households) were fitted in 2014.
This is a fall of 14,000 from the 2013 total of 111,000 such installations, which are fitted after the energy supplier applies for a court order. Pre-payment meters prevent consumers from running up energy bills which they are subsequently unable to pay.
An OFGEM spokesman said: “Installing pre-payment meters under warrant should be used as a last resort by energy suppliers when consumers get into debt. It is a way to prevent a customer from being disconnected. Suppliers can only install a prepayment meter where it is safe and reasonably practical for the consumer to use.”
“Suppliers should do all they can to support customers struggling to pay. This includes the provision of energy efficiency advice, signposting to social support and setting any outstanding debt repayments on the meter at an affordable level taking into consideration the customers’ financial circumstances. Customers struggling with debt should talk to their supplier as soon as possible.
“Suppliers are required to treat customers fairly – so we are looking into reasons behind the increase in the number of PPMs installed for non-payment of debt on a warrant visit.”