Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, is 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.
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.
Karin Smyth is joining Labour Party colleagues in calling for an immediate moratorium at least for the duration of the winter while an urgent review takes place of how customers on pre-payment meters can be properly protected, building on leading consumer affairs organisations calls for a long-term review of the treatment of users of prepayment meters.
Labour has already called for an end to the injustice that people on prepayment meters have to pay more for their energy than those on direct debits. The party has called for additional government support to individual households on prepayment meters, to level the playing field on the cost of electricity and gas for households.
Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:
“My concerns regarding the shameful treatment of people on prepayment meters is well known. When the now Prime Minister was Chancellor, I pushed him on the loopholes he had left in delivering the energy rebate scheme to people connected to gas and electricity this way. As then, this Tory Government is oblivious to how people live on prepayment meters.
“We need immediate action to halt the installation of prepayment meters by energy companies in people’s homes who are struggling to keep up with bills. Let us be in no doubt, by installing these meters we are seeing blackouts by the back door.
“Bristol’s energy bills are too high and our energy system is too weak after thirteen years of Conservative failure. Only a Labour government will cut bills, deliver GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company producing cheaper, cleaner, homegrown people for the British people.