Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET
Dear Secretary of State,
I am concerned about the number of people at risk of being forced by their energy suppliers onto prepayment meters this winter. These are individuals on low incomes who are struggling to afford their bills and to keep the heating and lights on this winter.
Whilst I recognise that the Government has taken steps to support people, and to target additional help at the most vulnerable, many of my constituents will still be unable to pay their energy bills and will get into debt as a result. As you will be aware, energy suppliers can move customers in debt onto pre-payment meters. New research by Citizens Advice estimates that over 450,000 people could be forced to move to prepayment meters in 2022 due to debts incurred to their energy suppliers.
One of the downsides of this approach is that if these people cannot top up their meters they are at high risk of rationing or ‘self-disconnecting’ entirely. With disabled people and families with young children amongst those being moved to prepay, the potential consequences over the winter months are devastating.
We need swift action to ensure energy suppliers do not exacerbate the unfolding crisis and to protect struggling customers. I am therefore backing the campaign for a winter moratorium on the installation of prepayment energy meters due to debt. This would mirror the ban on disconnection in place for vulnerable people.
Please will you urgently implement a moratorium, thereby sending a strong signal to energy suppliers that support for struggling customers is an essential accompaniment to the Energy Price Guarantee.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely, Caroline