Major changes for millions of hard-up energy customers including free credits – will you benefit? | The Sun

MILLIONS of hard-up energy customers will be better protected following a major change from Ofgem.

The energy regulator has today (September 13) confirmed that suppliers will be banned from forcibly installing prepayment meters into vulnerable people's homes.

The rules were proposed in June this year but are now set in stone.

The voluntary code of practice means that people who struggle the most financially or are in more vulnerable situations will be protected.

From November 8, energy suppliers must only install prepayment meters as an absolute last resort and without force.

Ofgem has said that should a prepayment meter need to be installed, then it must be done so in a fair and reasonable way.

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On top of that, suppliers must also give a £30 in credit per meter on all installations and remote switches.

The rules will put vulnerable customers at less risk of having prepayment meters installed when do not need them.

Those who will be protected include:

  • People aged over 75 and have no other support in the house (the initial proposals said people over the age of 85 but this has been dropped by a decade)
  • Families with children aged under two
  • Households who require a continuous energy supply for health reasons
  • Households with residents with severe health issues including terminal illnesses or those with a medical dependency on a warm home
  • Those with no one in the households who has the ability to top up the meter due to physical or mental incapacity

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Energy companies must also adhere to the following rules before a meter can be installed.

They must:

  • Make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer before it is installed
  • Carry out a welfare visit beforehand
  • Re-assess the case once a customer has repaid debts owed and contact them to offer an assessment about whether a prepayment meter remains suitable

On top of that, Ofgem is making sure audio or body cameras are worn by the lead employee representing an energy company during all installations or site visits.

Neil Kenward, director for strategy at Ofgem said:  “Protecting the most vulnerable consumers is at the heart of what we do, and this decision not only cements the protections Ofgem put in place for people deemed most at risk, it goes further to protect the most vulnerable households. 

“Prepayment meters are an important payment method that help millions of households to manage their energy bills. But they are not suitable for everyone.  

“Ofgem will be monitoring suppliers’ behaviour closely to ensure they are complying with the spirit and letter of these rules. If that is not the case we will not hesitate to take action.” 

All energy suppliers signed up to the code of practice last April after the regulator found suppliers were not acting fairly with vulnerable customers.

The code will now become a part of suppliers' licence conditions and if breached, could result in enforcement action and fines.

How can I save money with the cost of living?

Millions of households are eagerly awaiting a £300 cost of living payment this autumn, though a date is yet to be confirmed.

Over eight million people on benefits qualify for the £300 cost of living payment.

The full list of benefits that makes you eligible is:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

You were eligible for the £301 instalment if you received one of the above benefits between January 26 and February 25.

Anyone eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment this year will receive a top up worth between £150-£300 from November.

You qualify for this year's Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before September 25, 1957.

In some cases, you will qualify for both the £900 cost of living payment and the Winter Fuel Payment top up, say for example if your receive Pension Credit.

On top of the cost of living payments, you might be eligible for help via the Household Support Fund (HSF).

It was launched in October 2021 and has been extended multiple times.

The latest tranche of funding is worth £842million and has been distributed among councils in England.

They then decide how to allocate their own unique share, which means it can be a bit of a postcode lottery to what you get.

In most cases though, help is offered to those on benefits or a low income.

It's worth contacting your local council to see what help is available. You can find your local council by using the Government's locator tool.


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You might also be able to get help paying for your energy bills if you're struggling to pay up.

British Gas, EDF and E.ON all have schemes open where customers can get free grants to cover costs.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.

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