Ofgem has announced that all UK household energy suppliers have agreed that they will ban forcible entry into people’s homes to install prepayment meters (PPMs) for those aged over 85.
A new code of practice has been agreed by the energy suppliers to provide their customers with more chances to pay their debts.
Energy suppliers must now make at least 10 attempts to contact their customers to carry out a welfare check before they can install a PPM.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: “Ofgem’s new voluntary code of practice is a minimum standard that clearly sets out steps all suppliers must take before moving to a PPM.
“If and when involuntary PPMs are used, it must be as a last resort, and customers in vulnerable situations will be given the extra care and consideration they deserve, over and above the rules already in place, by suppliers – something that has clearly not always been happening.
“This new code of practice means for some people PPMs should never be installed, and for high-risk groups their energy needs must be protected with a higher level of consideration.”
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “This voluntary code of practice is a much-needed improvement in the protections people have against the forced installation of a prepayment meter by energy companies.
“It’s now up to suppliers to follow the rules and for Ofgem to crack down quickly on any sign of bad practice.
“The regulator must also act swiftly to make this voluntary code mandatory.”
Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “This code of practice simply does not go far enough and the fact it is voluntary undermines its objective.
“There are really vulnerable groups which have been omitted from its full protection and we have serious concerns about how it will be implemented, such as how people will prove their medical conditions without being humiliated by an energy firm health inspection.”
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