Price freeze for fuel poor using pre-payment meters welcomed

Energy expert charity The Footprint Trust has generally welcomed the Competition & Markets Authority recommendations, which includes a price freeze for those using expensive pre-payment meters. The move will help around 4 million low income households throughout Britain. These households can pay up to £250 per year more than the best deal available to those on a standard meter.

The proportion of energy customers on prepayment meters has increased steadily over the last 20 years, from 7% in 1996 to 16% currently. Unlike the choice of whether to pay by direct debit or standard credit, prepayment is not generally a choice on the part of the customer.

Prepayment meters are generally installed where a customer has had a poor payment history, due to fuel poverty, or in certain types of accommodation such as student accommodation and others on low income. Nearly all prepayment customers are on standard variable tariffs, reflecting the limited choice of non-standard tariffs they face.

“The Island has some 10,000 people in fuel poverty, and this proposal will be of some help in reducing their burden of debt. It is ironic that the poorest people are paying the highest price per unit of power. If you get in debt with your energy company, you are then put on a pre-payment meter, which can increase your debt due to the expensive tariff.”

“Another issue raised by the Authority was the issue of many thousands of customers being on high standard tariffs, rather than the best cheapest deal from their supplier, or from an alternative supplier. This means that many energy consumers are paying hundreds of pounds per year too much for their energy.”

“Which? and The Sun newspaper are to be commended for their campaigns on this issue, which has now brought about some help for those in fuel poverty.” Said Ray Harrington-Vail, the charity senior energy worker and National Heat Hero.

” We would urge everyone to contact their energy company and check they are on the best deal. An even better deal can be had by using popular price comparison sites, which are regularly advertised on TV. Switching supplier could save a household up to £400 per year.”

Thanks to funding from ScottishPower Energy People Trust and DECC’s Big Energy Saving Network (BESN) The Footprint Trust can offer free home energy visits, which save many people over £200 a year on their utility bills. Contact Don Roe at the Trust on 822282 or email to book a home visit of to get some guidance.

Recently the Footprint Trust staff’s Energy Champions Mark Russell and Ray Harrington-Vail, were praised by the BESN as being organisations in the top 10 across the national programme for the number of people they have helped.

The BESN Network said;
“This is a fantastic achievement and you should be proud of this accomplishment. We wanted to take this opportunity to really thank you for your continued contribution. As a consequence of your commitment and delivery above expectations you are allowing the programme to support more consumers that would otherwise have not received assistance.”