Prepayment meter energy tariffs must be no more than those for direct debit customers
This petition had 42 supporters
People with a Prepayment Meter should not be charged more than people who pay by Direct Debit!
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) admits that customers who use Prepayment Meters for their energy have been ripped off for years, paying around £300 more per year than other customers. Roger Witcomb, chair of their energy market investigation, has said, "It is unacceptable that four million households on prepayment meters, many of them vulnerable, face higher bills than other energy customers."
Their solution? They’ve proposed a cap on Prepayment Meter tariffs – but their cap would cut the bills by around £75. That is a long way from £300!
Although some customers choose them, most Prepayment Meters (PPMs) are forced onto people by landlords in rented properties or through getting into arrears. Many have had the meters installed after traumatising break-ins to their homes. It is totally unacceptable that PPM users, who are usually the worst-off customers should pay even more than other people. It’s a tax on poverty.
In addition, PPM users are expected to pay off arrears at a higher rate than other people. One woman wrote to FPA, “I was £47 in debt. Every time I topped up £10 I would get £3 for gas for weeks until the £47 cleared. This meant the kids were either left cold or I had to take money from my food shop to cover gas.”
Thousands die each winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes. There are rules preventing disconnection of power to vulnerable customers, but people on PPMs are routinely left in the dark and cold. You are disconnected when the money runs out.
The energy companies claim it costs £63 more to administer a PPM than other forms of payment. But instead of advancing credit, they are getting their money up front, before the fuel is even used. Like direct debit customers, PPM users should also be rewarded for the fact that the payment is automatic and guaranteed. As one user wrote to Fuel Poverty Action: “As a pre-pay customer I pay in advance, never owing them money – so why should I be charged more?”
The CMA cap is grossly insufficient. People who pay through a Prepayment Meter should be charged no more than those paying by Direct Debit.
Make sure you make your voice heard about this gross injustice. And if you want to share your personal experience or get involved, write to email@example.com or see fuelpovertyaction.org.uk.
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