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Three energy firms told they can force-fit prepayment meters again from today

EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power have been told by Ofgem that they could resume "involuntary" 'Pay as you Go' meter installations from today

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Energy suppliers have been warned over their conduct by the industry regulator as a temporary ban on prepayment meters comes to an end.

EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power have been told by Ofgem that they could resume “involuntary” ‘Pay as you Go’ meter installations from today (8).

These three firms have now been allowed to resume installations after meeting conditions to restart the controversial practice.

The practice was outlawed by Ofgem back in February last year following an investigation that revealed how debt collectors had forced their way into the homes of vulnerable customers to install prepayment meters.

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The metres can be fitted when a household is in debt and they ensure that energy is cut off if up-front payments are not made.

Charges for gas and electricity are typically higher for these customers than those who pay by direct debit

Debt
The controversial metres can be fitted when a household is in debt and they ensure that energy is cut off if up-front payments are not made

Ofgem’s new code, which is now linked to a supplier’s operating licence, means they must be proactive when customers clearly need help when in debt.

The new criteria now includes a demand that at least 10 attempts to contact a customer be made before any forced installation is considered.

Ofgem also states that Prepayment meters cannot be fitted in the homes of people aged over 75 with no support in their house or in homes with children under two-years-old.

Charges for gas and electricity are typically higher for these customers than those who pay by direct debit.

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The number of indebted homes has risen sharply as gas and electricity bills hit record levels, largely as a result of surging wholesale costs exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

An additional 600,000 homes were on prepayment meters last year when the cost of living crisis peaked.

Ofgem’s Director general for markets, Tim Jarvis, said: “Protecting consumers is our number one priority.

“We’ve made clear that suppliers must exhaust all other options before considering forced installation of a prepayment meter, and consumers can help themselves by reaching out to their supplier as soon as possible if they think they won’t be able to pay their bill, so payment options can be discussed.

“Our rules on when, and how, a prepayment meter can be installed are clear and we won’t hesitate to take action if suppliers act irresponsibly.”

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