Concerns raised for pre-payment customers in Wales as energy prices soar
Concerns have been raised that pre-payment meter customers in Wales are being forced onto the highest energy tariffs.
Social Justice Minister, Jane Hutt said she’s concerned that a worryingly large number of householders on a traditional pre-payment meter have not used their fuel vouchers which have a 90-day expiry date.
Jane Hutt said: “It is important these householders use their vouchers. I would also encourage customers in vulnerable situations to contact their energy supplier to register themselves as vulnerable.
Around 200,000 households in Wales use pre-payment meters for their mains gas and electricity representing 15% of all households and 24% of tenants in the private rented sector.
Almost half of social housing tenants use pre-payment meters.
The Welsh Government has said there’s a responsibility on the energy suppliers to provide appropriate support for their customers.
“Unfairly driven onto pre-payment meters”
The minister said: “I am deeply concerned, as more households fall behind with the payment of their electricity and gas bills, they may be unfairly driven onto pre-payment meters.
“The government has called on the UK Government and Ofgem to introduce a social tariff to protect the most vulnerable householders.”
Energy suppliers have said moving householders onto pre-payments meters is a last resort and whilst there is a perception that pre-payment meters are linked to debt, some suppliers stated the majority of their pre-payment customers used the meters as a tool to control usage
A recent report by Ofgem found that some suppliers needed to make improvements to helping customers through this period of high energy prices.
Energy suppliers have been advised to absorb the cost of standing charges for people being disconnected from pre-payment meters.
Rising energy costs
£90m has been allocated by the Welsh Government to provide support to vulnerable households to meet rising energy costs.
This includes a second Fuel Support Scheme £4m fuel voucher scheme aimed at those on prepayment meters and those off the gas grid.
The Discretionary Assistance Fund has also been made available for off-grid households struggling financially.
The minster for social justice will be holding follow up meetings with energy suppliers in the new year, followed by quarterly meetings.
New estimates suggest up to 45% of Welsh households could be in fuel poverty following increases to the energy price cap.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.