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Britain’s power regulator has launched harder curbs round suppliers’ use of pre-payment meters underneath new guidelines geared toward defending susceptible clients.
Ofgem stated on Wednesday that, from November, power corporations wouldn’t be allowed to forcibly match the units within the houses of individuals with extreme well being issues, these aged over 75 with out home assist, or with kids underneath the age of two.
The transfer follows criticism of Centrica-owned British Gasoline in January over allegations that third-party contractors broke into susceptible individuals’s houses underneath court docket warrant to put in the units as payments soared within the wake of the power shock.
Following the allegations, Ofgem imposed an industry-wide moratorium on forcible installations, regardless of warnings from British Gasoline that each one households would face greater payments if suppliers couldn’t stop struggling clients from working up massive money owed.
Neil Kenward, Ofgem’s director of technique, stated the brand new guidelines would “present safety from unhealthy practices” and make it possible for pre-payment meters had been utilized by suppliers in a “honest and accountable manner”.
“Pre-payment meters are an necessary fee technique that assist hundreds of thousands of households to handle their power payments. However they don’t seem to be appropriate for everybody,” he added.
The brand new guidelines mark a harder stance from Ofgem in contrast with April, when it initially set out a brand new voluntary code of observe. Now necessary, the code has diminished the higher age restrict to 75 from 85, as first envisaged.
Underneath the brand new guidelines, suppliers may also have so as to add £30 credit score to new force-fitted pre-payment meters to keep away from sudden disconnection, and preserve video recordings of all forcible installations.
If power corporations don’t adjust to the brand new guidelines, they face “enforcement motion and substantial fines”, stated Ofgem.
The watchdog’s announcement got here as Jonathan Brearley, chief government, warned that some households confronted even steeper power payments this winter than final.
The power value cap — which dictates payments for greater than 23mn households and gives an estimate primarily based on common annual utilization — is about to fall from a report £4,279 in January to £1,923 in October, on the again of drops in wholesale fuel costs.
However Brearley advised MPs on Wednesday that as a result of the extent of presidency assist for households had additionally fallen for the reason that begin of this 12 months, “for many individuals their payments shall be very comparable this 12 months, and probably worse for some”.
When the brand new value cap was introduced final month, the federal government identified that low-income households had been persevering with to obtain assist in the direction of the price of dwelling, together with £900 paid in three instalments.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief government of Residents Recommendation, a charity, stated Ofgem’s announcement on tighter restrictions didn’t go far sufficient to “cease all households with kids underneath 5 from being compelled on to a pre-payment meter”.
“As we head into what shall be one more extremely tough winter for a lot of, it’s important suppliers be sure that none of their susceptible clients are compelled on to a pre-payment meter,” she added.