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Compensation paid for force-fitting of prepayment meters

Woman tops up prepayment meter
[Getty Images]

Energy suppliers have paid compensation totalling £342,450 to customers who were wrongly put onto prepayment meters - with more payouts expected.

Regulator Ofgem told companies to review cases of people who were forced onto the meters between the start of 2022 and the end of January 2023.

A total of 1,502 people have now received payouts, but another 1,000 customers are likely to be paid.

It comes after a scandal over the force-fitting of meters.

For years, energy companies were able to force-fit prepayment meters into homes when bills went unpaid.

But agents for British Gas were exposed installing them inappropriately. They were forcing their way into the homes of vulnerable people, against Ofgem rules. Exposure of cases led to a public outcry.

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All suppliers were subsequently told to check cases, and now Ofgem has given an interim update of the compensation paid.

It said £342,450 had already been paid with further payments of around £200,000 planned for another 1,000 customers. British Gas is part of a separate investigation, so is not included in the figures.

"We are working closely with suppliers to make sure they identify all eligible consumers and pay appropriate levels of compensation promptly," an Ofgem spokeswoman said.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said the timescale of checks should now be extended beyond 13 months.

"This data highlights just why the forced prepayment meter scandal rightly hit the headlines in 2023 and it should encourage Ofgem to make sure that every forced prepayment meter decision, going back over the years, is reviewed," he said.

The final compensation total is expected by the end of June.

Various suppliers have recently been given permission to resume the forced fitting of prepayment meters, under stricter rules.

Cost of living: Tackling it together
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What can I do if I can't afford my energy bill?

  • Check your direct debit: Your monthly payment is based on your estimated energy use for the year. Your supplier can reduce your bill if your actual use is less than the estimation.

  • Pay what you can: If you can't meet your direct debit or quarterly payments, ask your supplier for an "able to pay plan" based on what you can afford.

  • Claim what you are entitled to: Check you are claiming all the benefits you can. The independent MoneyHelper website has a useful guide.

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