Energy bosses face Senedd grilling over pre-payment meter scandal
Senedd members will grill energy bosses on the pre-payment meter scandal next week.
Top energy companies will face the Senedd’s Petitions Committee as it seeks answers on the scandal next Monday (15 May).
In February, a series of investigations exposed the practice of energy companies using debt collection agencies to forcibly install pre-payment meters in households which had fallen behind on direct debit payments.
This resulted in thousands of elderly and vulnerable people being forced to pay for energy before using it, leading to many being unable to heat their homes through the winter.
In response to this, Climate Cymru and other campaigners launched a petition on the Senedd website calling for an investigation into the practices of energy companies.
The Committee will now be questioning energy executives on whether vulnerable people are now safe from being forcibly switched to meters and whether the practice should be banned completely.
Welsh Government’s figures show that around 200,000 households in Wales are on pre-payment meters including 45% of social housing tenants.
Pre-payment meters are more expensive than direct debits with standing charges for both electricity and gas higher, and the price per unit for gas also dearer.
Jack Sargeant MS, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said, “I’ve heard harrowing stories from constituents forced on to pre-payment meters against their will. Across Wales, we know that thousands have endured freezing temperatures through the winter as they couldn’t afford to put the heating on.
“The behaviour of energy companies was deeply disturbing and despite their recent promises to change the way they operate the Committee will be determined to seek answers on why they ever thought their actions were acceptable.
“No one should be put in a position where they’re scared to put the heating on and despite the companies’ changing their ways of working, we want to be certain that vulnerable people won’t be facing the same issues next year.”
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How many lives have been lost due to this despicable behaviour by the energy bosses?
The entire sordid episode now well into its second year should be critically appraised. Profiteering on a scale not encountered previously by what is mostly a mix of international corporates ably supported by governments at all levels. Prepayment rigging is a soft target, low hanging fruit, for Labour and their allies but they need to widen the scope of the grilling to bring far more wrong doing into scope.
Terrible predatory actions by energy firms but the grilling will be utterlypointless as the regulations allowing this are not devolved neither are the magistrates who were authorising enmass the warrants for forcible entry for the fitters.
At least Welsh Labour will get two minutes of fame by appearing to take on the Energy companies.
Real action would be for the Welsh Labour senedd demanding justice and policing to be devolved to Wales