British Gas, ScottishPower and Ovo ‘dominate’ forced prepayment meter installations
More than 94,000 prepayment meters were last year forcibly installed in homes without customer consent, with just three energy suppliers responsible for over 70% of all forced installations.
UK energy security secretary Grant Shapps has now revealed the most overzealous suppliers, as part of a crackdown on the mistreatment of vulnerable customers in the use of these meters.
Leading the charge with the highest number of prepayment meters force-fitted last year are British Gas, ScottishPower and OVO Energy, making up 70% of all forced installations with a total of 66,187 devices fitted under warrant. Of these, ScottishPower tops the list as the worst offender when taking into account their customer base – force fitting over 24,300 in their customer’s homes in 2022.
Mr Shapps has today doubled down on his call for any mistreatment of customers to be rectified, while again urging suppliers to help the households on traditional prepayment metres access the 2.1 million vouchers yet to be claimed under the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme.
He said: “Today’s figures give a clear and horrifying picture of just how widespread the forced installation of prepayment meters had become, with last year seeing an average of over 7,500 force-fitted a month.
“Prepayment meters are right for some people, so I do not want to ban them outright, but I do have concerns that companies have not been treating their customers fairly, over an already difficult winter during which the government has tried to help families by paying around half the energy bill of the average household.
“After my calls for change, I’m pleased that suppliers have made their actions public and agreed to put a stop to forcing prepayment onto vulnerable customers for good - but this cannot happen again.
“I will be watching Ofgem’s ongoing review closely so customers get the support they need - and those vulnerable consumers who have wrongly suffered forced installations get the justice they deserve in the form of redress.”
Ofgem is reviewing the use of prepayment meters and companies have been instructed to investigate and offer redress such as compensation to customers where the meters were wrongly installed and regulations not followed.
Last week, the regulator extended the ban on forced installations of prepayment meters until a new code of practice is agreed by energy companies.