Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, has joined his Labour colleagues in calling for an immediate moratorium for the duration of the winter on the forced installation of prepayment meters, which has left millions of people without power across the UK.
It has become clear that energy companies were using the court system to force people struggling to pay their energy bills to be switched to prepayment meters. An investigation by the i newspaper has shown that some magistrates were signing off the orders in bundles of 100s instead of properly reviewing the application.
Research by Citizens Advice has found that 3.2 million people across Great Britain ran out of credit on their prepayment meter last year because they couldn’t afford to top up.
Whilst protections are supposed to be in place to stop vulnerable customers being moved onto prepayment meters, there are serious concerns that not enough is being done by energy companies to identify customers in these circumstances before installing a prepayment meter, and that this is leading to a rise in voluntary self-disconnections.
The Welsh Labour Government is doing all it can to support households in Wales, filling the gap left by the UK Tory government. They have allocated £90m to provide support to vulnerable households to meet rising energy costs. This includes a second Welsh Government Fuel Support Scheme in 2022-23 and they are working in partnership with the Fuel Bank Foundation to deliver a £4m fuel voucher scheme aimed at those on prepayment meters and those off the gas grid. The Welsh Labour Government has also made additional funding available to the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) this financial year to help people who are struggling financially with support for off-grid households.
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, said:
“Once again, the UK Tory Government has been asleep at the wheel and millions have been let down. The Welsh Labour Government has worked tirelessly to plug the gaps left behind, but there are some things we cannot do without a UK Labour Government.
Energy companies are showing nothing but greed towards the families they are forcing onto prepayment meters. I’ve long called for more action to be taken to protect the most vulnerable accessing energy. The UK Tory Government can sort this now by instructing energy companies to halt any more enforced prepayment meter switches.
We’ve had statements from ministers that they will write strongly worded letters, but that’s not enough. They must act now or we can only conclude that the Tories are in government but refuse to govern. A UK Labour Government would bring this action to an end, support the Welsh Labour Government and ensure energy bills don’t continue to rise.”