Citizens Advice to help energy customers
Approximately 10.8 million people in the UK use the meters, and CAB's research discovered that one in every six meter customers has had their power cut off due to faulty meters.
The Citizen's Advice report "Topping up or Dropping out" revealed some of the bleak choices and challenges that pay-as-you go energy customers face.
According to the research, half of prepayment customer who had their supply disconnected last year are concerned about being able to afford to top up their gas or electricity meters
Citizen Advice say that there are people being left without any energy as their credit had ran out and they were unable to get to a shop to buy a top-up.
The report also said that a household that has a prepayment meter spends £80 more a year on energy than a person on direct debit.
One of the more worrying aspects found out by CAB, was that there are consumers who are self-disconnecting (going without gas or electricity) because of increasing energy costs and unstable finances.
By law, Energy Suppliers are not allowed to disconnect elderly, sick, disabled or households with young children in them between October 1st 2014 and March 31st 2015, however no such rule applies to consumers on a prepayment meter.
The report also had some other stark findings:
• Children live in half of the households that have prepayment meters.
• People who are on prepayment meters and self-disconnect are on the lowest incomes.
• Keeping the meter topped up is a major concern for more than half of people who have disconnected in the last year, up by six per cent since 2010.
• Disconnections can be as little as an hour to as long as several months.
• 43% of bureaux advisers referred cut-off prepayment consumers to a foodbank.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said "Going without gas or electricity is a grave necessity not a choice. The budgets of many prepayment meter users are stretched so thin that not topping up their energy meters for a few days, or even weeks, is the only way to get by. It is very concerning that, as temperatures start to drop and the nights draw in, some prepayment consumers will be living in cold, dark homes because they can't afford to put money on their meters."
Energy customers can get advice by calling our consumer helpline on 03454 040506, go online at www.adviceguide.org.uk or visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau.