Ofgem consults on making voluntary pre-payment meter practice mandatory
Energy regulator Ofgem is consulting on turning its voluntary Code of Practice on force-fitting pre-payment meters (PPMs) into a mandatory part of supplier conditions.
In April this year, all British domestic energy suppliers signed up for an updated Code of Practice that will ban the forced installation of prepayment meters (PPMs) in the homes of people over the age of 85.
The new Code, which sets out clear procedures that suppliers must follow, was developed in consultation with Citizens Advice, Energy UK and other key stakeholders following Ofgem’s Call for Evidence in February.
It has now published a statutory consultation on introducing the below PPM Code of Practice into the licence and guidance for energy suppliers.
Responses to the proposed changes as part of this consultation are welcomed until 26 July 2023.
Subject to reviewing responses to this consultation, Ofgem said it expects to publish its licence modification decision notices later this year. Any licence changes would take effect 56 days after publishing the decision notices and the intention is for these protections to be in place before winter 2023.
Citizens Advice Scotland said the forced installation of pre-payment meters should be banned altogether.
Social justice spokesperson David Hilferty said: “Any moves to tighten up the rules around the forced installations of PPMs are welcome, however the voluntary code of practice currently doesn’t go nearly far enough and is full of loopholes.
“Citizens Advice Scotland would rather see tougher rules on suppliers in the first place. In the current voluntary code, the threshold which suppliers agree to not install meters is too high – for example households with kids under two would still be at risk of forced installations under this code.
“Likewise, many elderly consumers remain at risk from forced installations. For some PPM customers, energy is a luxury they can only afford in the first week or two of the month, and they then go without until the next payday. “That’s unsustainable, unacceptable – but is the inescapable reality for many just now.
“We need a permanent ban on mandatory PPMs, whether that is physically installing them in people’s homes or remote switching a smart meter.
“People find themselves in debt because costs are too high, and incomes are too low. That’s why we need to see a social tariff in the energy sector.”