Major change to rules for energy customers struggling with bills including £30 free credit – check if you’re affected | The Sun

A MAJOR change to rules for energy customers struggling with bills has been announced – including £30 free credit.

The most vulnerable energy customers will no longer be forced onto prepayment meters if they fall into debt.

Forced installations have been banned for those over the age of 85, anyone terminally ill, or people who have health issues which mean they need powered medical equipment

Customers who are moved onto prepay to manage their debts will be handed £30 free credit so they are not left without gas or electric when being switched over.

All UK household energy suppliers have signed up to the new code of practice announced by energy regulator Ofgem.

Prepayment meter installation practices have been in the spotlight after some energy suppliers were found to be breaking into the homes of people struggling to pay their bills to forcibly install them.


Urgent energy bill warning as thousands cut off with debt topping £1billion

Major change to energy bills coming within days – how much more will you pay?

The new rules mean tougher oversight of installations enforced under warrant or when customers are remotely switched without consent.

Warrants give energy firms the legal right to enter homes and install the meters.

Energy suppliers can also switch customer smart meters over prepayment mode remotely.

They can do this to help recover a debt if a customer can no longer afford their bills.

Most read in Money


Full list of supermarkets where prices are rising the most – are you paying more?


DWP to send £301 from next week – but not all Brits will receive the cash


Our street has been ruined by eyesore 'cookie-cutter' newbuild homes


Urgent bill warning for millions of households that could cost you thousands

Usually customers are forced on to the meters if they fall into debt with their energy bill and the supplier has been unable to contact them for a prolonged period of time.

Under the new rules, suppliers will now have to make at least ten attempts to contact a customer.

Sun Money called for a ban on moving households onto prepayment meters back in August last year.

We spoke to Ann Ashby, 64, who was distraught when British Gas installed a prepayment meter without her consent.

Firms have also been told to identify where meters have been wrongfully installed and to return the customer to their previous tariff and offer compensation.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said:  “We expect the overall number of involuntary PPM installations will fall over time, and we recognise that a careful balance is required to help manage debt, while protecting customers in vulnerable situations."

An investigation by The Times revealed how vulnerable customers – including disabled and mentally ill people – were being forced by British Gas on to the pay-as-you-go meters or having their gas switched off.

Firms were temporarily banned from installing prepayment energy meters under warrant.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the code of practice is a "much needed improvement".

“It’s now up to suppliers to follow the rules and for Ofgem to crack down quickly on any sign of bad practice," she added.

Tom Marsland, policy manager at disability equality charity Scope, said he wants to see the forced installation of meters and remote switching banned outright for disabled people.

He added: “Life costs more if you are disabled, and many disabled people have no alternative but to use more energy.

“The government should introduce a social energy tariff to help stop disabled people being plunged into debt by sky-high energy bills in the first place.”

What energy bill help is on offer?

A £900 payment will be going out to millions on means-tested benefits and Universal Credit this year.

To be eligible for the payment, households will need to be claiming at least one of the following:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Social Fund (Sure Start Maternity Grant, Funeral Payment, Cold Weather Payment)
  • Universal Credit

The first £301 of it will be made directly into bank accounts between April 25 and May 17.

If you were receiving any of the above benefits between January 26 and February 25 this year you will receive the £301 payment.

If you were later found to be entitled to any of the above benefits between these qualifying dates you will be eligible for the payment too.

For those receiving the £301 payment from the DWP, it will show in your bank account as "DWP COLP" along with your National Insurance (NI) number.

Elderly Brits will also receive another one-off £300 pensioner cost of living payment this summer.

Those with certain disabilities will also qualify for a further £150 cost of living payment.

Energy suppliers also offer plenty of energy grants and schemes to help you out if you're struggling. Here's a list of schemes open right now:

Read More on The Sun

I transformed my window with a £3.50 buy – now my neighbour can’t see in

Woman buys Amazon returns on the cheap & rakes in a huge profit

  • British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Family Fund
  • British Gas Energy Trust
  • EDF Customer Support Fund
  • E.ON and E.ON Next Grants
  • Octopus Energy Assist Fund
  • OVO Energy
  • Scottish Power Hardship Fund

There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment meter.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article