Recent data from the UK government has revealed that energy companies in the nation forcibly installed 94,000 prepayment meters during the energy crisis in 2022. Scottish Power, British Gas, and Ovo were among the companies who ordered the most of these installations.
Energy companies often use prepayment meters for customers who have missed payments in the past. The matter of the forced installation of these systems came to light during the energy crisis that occurred due to various triggers including the removal of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions as well as the Russia-Ukraine war which raised the electricity rates in the UK significantly.
The government has been making constant efforts to stop the forced installation of these prepayment meters. The head of the energy regulation for Great Britain, Ofgem, has recently confirmed that a ban will be placed on the illegal installations, which will continue until the establishment of a code of practice.
70% of all forced installations were ordered primarily by three UK energy companies, Scottish Power, Ovo and British Gas. Scottish Power was termed the worst offender with more than 24,300 installations. The head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, Gillian Cooper, stated that the figures indicate the stress, anxiety, and hardships caused by forced prepayment meters cannot be ignored. She added that they point to evidence of a more troubling scale of the energy issue.
Around 2.5 million or 8.8% of all UK households defaulted or missed the utility bill, or payments for housing, loans or credit card in March. The numbers indicate a rise over the 8.2% recorded in January.
Some officials have expressed the belief that prepayment meters are right for some people and should not be banned outright. However, there are concerns regarding the unfair treatment of customers by the companies in the difficult winter period, during which the government offered its support to families by paying close to half of the average household’s energy bill.
Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/mar/27/uk-energy-firms-forcibly-installed-prepayment-meters