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New rules on prepayment meters

If our supplier wants to fit a prepayment meter in our home against our wishes, there are new rules that give us some protections

New rules will offer us protection if our energy supplier wants to fit a prepayment meter against our wishes.

It came to light that some suppliers were trying to claw back debt from customers by forcing them on to a prepayment meter.

But earlier this year energy regulator Ofgem asked suppliers to stop doing this. They all signed up to a promise to stop.

While this promise was voluntary, the new rules will be mandatory and firms could face a hefty fine.

Strict new rules for suppliers

The new rules on prepayment meters come into force on 8 November. These set out strict criteria for when a supplier can fit a prepayment meter against our wishes.

It must be a last resort, and the supplier must act fairly towards us. That means trying to contact us at least 10 times and visiting to check on our welfare before fitting the meter.

They’re also banned from fitting prepayment meters against our wishes if we rely on electrical medical equipment. If we’re over 75 or have a child under two, or have someone in our home with a severe health problem, we’re also protected. And there are other criteria that can also protect us.

If we don’t meet these criteria we could be forced on to a prepayment meter. But the supplier must look at our case again once we’ve paid our debt.

New price cap

A new price cap has just come in, meaning we’ll see a small drop in the cost per unit of energy.

Standing charges have gone up though. If we have a prepeyment meter or pay on receipt of a bill we’ll pay more than if we pay by Direct Debit.

And the amount we pay in standing charges depends on where in the country we are. Customers in North Wales or Merseyside can pay £80 a year more than Londoners.

As the weather gets chillier, Quids in! has advice on how to keep a lid on energy bills.

Image: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels

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