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Scope criticises new prepayment meter regulations

Disability equality charity Scope has claimed that new guidelines on the forced installation of prepayment gas and electricity meters ‘do not go far enough’.

Ofgem, the regulatory body for energy companies in Great Britain, announced today that the Code of Practice for the installation of prepayment meters will become mandatory, and has extended restrictions on energy firms.

It will be forbidden to forcibly install a prepayment meter in a household where all residents are over 75, or in homes with ‘very young children’. A welfare visit must be carried out before any prepayment meter is installed.

The Code of Practice already protected customers with severe or terminal health issues from having a prepayment meter forcibly installed.

Neil Kenward, Ofgem director for Strategy, said: “Protecting the most vulnerable consumers is at the heart of what we do.”

Head of Policy at Scope, Louise Rubin, said however that the rules are still insufficient.

She said: “There is no guarantee that a disabled household will not face a forced PPM installation this winter. Our energy system is broken for disabled people.”

Rubin also expressed disappointment that a special social tariff, for those who struggle to afford their energy bills, has not been introduced: “This needs to be a political priority ahead of another bleak winter for disabled people.”

Customers on prepayment meters have to pay a higher daily standing charge. Ofgem have said that prepayment customers will save £42 a year as a result of the October price cap.

Ofgem are holding a consultation on prepayment meter standing chargers, and aim to remove the prepayment meter premium by April 2024, when the government’s Energy Price Guarantee ends.

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