A new report by Citizens Advice (CA) has warned that nearly half a million people could be forced onto more expensive prepayment energy meters by the end of 2022. CA are calling on the government to stop companies forcing people onto prepayment meters where it poses a significant risk or to recover fuel debt, so that more people can be kept on supply as winter begins.
Prepayment meters – also known as ‘pay-as-you-go’ meters – are a common way to pay energy bills. A meter is installed in the home and topped up with credit bought either online or from a local shop. However, research has shown that many energy suppliers are force-installing prepayment meters onto consumers, many of whom are Disabled, noting that some people who can’t top up their prepayment meter will self-disconnect. For this reason, Disabled people or people in vulnerable situations shouldn’t be put onto a prepayment meter, because they can be exposed to serious harm should they go off supply. CA discovered that many households forced onto prepay had an illness or disability that is exacerbated in cold weather, such as arthritis, asthma, or cancer.
Historically households on prepayment meters spend more in winter than households on direct debit.
Read more on the Disability Rights UK website.