Ofgem to protect some vulnerable groups from enforced pre-payment meters

3 mins read

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Tags: ofgem, fuel bills, priority services register, pre-payment meters

Energy regulator Ofgem has published new guidelines for suppliers that will protect some vulnerable groups from having a pre-payment meter (PPM) installed without their consent.

Some suppliers have been moving customers onto PPMs when they’ve fallen behind on paying their energy bills. This has included disabled customers and has sometimes been done through forced entry under warrant. Energy from PPMs costs more.

Under the new code of practice, suppliers will not switch over to PPMS people at “high risk” and who need a continuous supply of energy for health reasons. But many families we support might still be at risk of forced installation.

Una Summerson, Contact’s head of campaigns, explains: “This will be reassuring news for families classed by suppliers as ‘high risk’. This includes parent carers whose children require electrical equipment for their care, such as ventilators, hoists and food pumps.

“But we know that the majority of families with disabled children are not on the priority services register. This is the only way that suppliers can identify a child in the household with a disability or health condition.

“We are also seeking urgent clarification on who and how they will decide, in the ‘medium risk’ category, which conditions could be exacerbated by long periods of disconnection and therefore warrant further assessment before installing a PPM.”

Join the Priority Services Register today

Joining the Priority Services Register (PSR) gives vulnerable households access to extra help and support from their energy and network suppliers. The scheme operates in England, Scotland and Wales.

Suppliers must also take all reasonable steps to avoid disconnecting you during the winter months (1 October – 31 March).

Both energy suppliers (who you pay your bills to) and network providers (who maintain the pipes and cables that bring energy to your home) operate PSRs. You should register with both. Visit https://www.thepsr.co.uk/ and enter your postcode to find your supplier and network provider. Follow the link to register on their websites.

Energy suppliers in Northern Ireland may operate their own schemes for older, disabled or chronically ill customers, such as the Medical Customer Care Register. Check with your supplier to find out more.