Warning for millions of prepayment energy customers as another household gets cut off every 10 seconds | The Sun

OVER three million Brits ran out of credit on prepayment meters last year because they couldn't afford to top up.

That's the equivalent of one every 10 seconds, according to Citizen's Advice.

The advisory service said it saw more people who were unable to top up their prepayment meter in 2022 than in the whole of the last 10 years combined.

It comes as rising energy costs have seen people's bills skyrocket as the cost of living worsens.

Citizen's Advice also found more than 2million people were being disconnected at least once a month.

Plus, 19% of those cut off in the past year then spent at least 24 hours without gas or electricity.

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Based on Ofgem figures, Citizens Advice estimated that 600,000 people were forced on to a prepayment meter because they couldn't afford to pay their energy bills on time in 2022.

It predicts 160,000 more people could be moved on to a prepayment meter by the end of winter if no further action is taken.

Citizens Advice said it was particularly concerned about disabled people and those living with long-term health conditions.

Almost one in five households (18%), including someone in this group who ran out of credit last year, went on to spend two days or more without an energy supply.

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Ofgem stipulates that certain groups such as disabled people and those with long-term health conditions should not be forced on to a prepayment meter.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “All too often the people finding it hardest to pay their bills are being forced on to a prepayment meter they can’t afford to top up.

“This puts them at real risk of being left in cold, damp and dark homes."

She added that new protections are needed to stop people from being fully cut off from gas and electricity.

The charity is now calling for a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections are introduced, ensuring households can no longer be fully cut off from gas and electricity.

Dame Moriarty said: “If Ofgem doesn’t act, the Government must intervene.”

The Sun Money has also called for a ban on people being moved on to prepayment meters this winter.

Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “The staggering extent of the prepayment meters scandal is now clear.

"Energy firms and the Government should hang their heads in shame."

The coalition has echoed calls for a full ban on the forced transfer of customers to prepayment meters.

What prepayment meter help is on offer?

If you're on a prepayment meter, you might be able to get a one-off voucher to top up.

The fuel voucher scheme comes via the Fuel Bank Foundation charity, and it's offered through a range of organisations, like food banks and Citizens Advice.

The best place to start to find somewhere which can offer you a fuel voucher is by asking your local council – you can find yours via gov.uk by searching your postcode.

The voucher should help you cover around two weeks' worth of electricity use.

Some energy companies may also issue their own vouchers, so ask your supplier directly.

Energy companies usually offer emergency credit, though you will have to pay this back.

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How much you get and how it's applied will depend on who your supplier is.

It might be added to your meter when you fall below a certain amount or you might have to ask for it.

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

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