Forced installation of prepayment meters banned for over 85s and those with conditions worsened by cold | Business News

Ofgem’s new code of apply for prepayment meters will prolong protections, however has been criticised for not overlaying extra susceptible households.

By Sarah Taaffe-Maguire, Business reporter @taaffems

Energy companies should attempt to contact a buyer at the least ten occasions and conduct a “site welfare visit” earlier than they will forcibly set up a prepayment meter, in accordance with new pointers.

Workers may also need to put on cameras or sound recorders to ensure the brand new code of apply from vitality regulator Ofgem is being adhered to.

Forced installations must also not happen within the properties of folks with extreme well being points and those 85 and over who haven’t got somebody to care for them

People with a well being situation that might be made worse by a cold house – corresponding to emphysema and sickle cell illness – may also be protected, as will individuals who require steady electrical energy for medical tools.

Rules beforehand said meters shouldn’t be put in within the properties of susceptible prospects, however a Times investigation discovered debt collectors working for British Gas had compelled their means into properties to do installations.

The head of the agency’s guardian firm Centrica apologised on Sky News after the report got here to gentle.

The guidelines round prepayment meters have been revised in session with authorities, stakeholders and business after the scandal emerged.

In February, Ofgem requested suppliers to quickly droop the apply of compelled installation and evaluate their processes for dealing with prospects who’ve fallen into arrears.

Sky’s Paul Kelso spoke to 2 folks affected by the obligatory prepayment meter installation coverage

Prepayment meters are pay-as-you-go units that require top-up funds to supply fuel and electrical energy to a house.

Energy suppliers set up the meters to prospects who’re in debt to keep away from them amassing increased payments. If funds aren’t made, no energy is equipped.

In an effort to forestall households being instantly with out energy, £30 credit score may also be given underneath the brand new pointers.

The top-up funds are costlier than paying common payments, one thing Chancellor Jeremy Hunt mentioned would finish in July.

Official figures confirmed greater than 94,000 meters had been put in in properties in Britain all through 2022.

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Some teams say the brand new Ofgem pointers have fallen quick of their expectations.

Disability equality charity Scope, mentioned: “This process will still allow energy companies to install prepayment meters in some disabled households”.

“We want to see the forced installation of meters and remote switching banned outright for disabled people,” Tom Marsland, Scope coverage supervisor mentioned.

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