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New code of practice “doesn’t go far enough”

A prepayment meter

Vulnerable customers should not be forced to have prepayment meters. They need protection not a voluntary code that suppliers can ignore.

This information was last updated on 24/04/23

The new voluntary code of practice launched today (19 April 2023) by Ofgem to govern the forced installation of prepayment meters doesn’t go far enough.

Our energy market is broken, and the recent sight of suppliers forcing vulnerable customers to have a prepayment meter whether they want one or not means that consumer trust in energy suppliers is at an all-time low. Vulnerable customers need protection, and we have no faith that the energy suppliers are going to do so voluntarily. They’ve already failed to act on the voluntary promises they made when Ofgem published its consumer vulnerability strategy in 2019!

Along with our partners at the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, we believe the fact that it is voluntary undermines its objective. And we have serious concerns that a number of vulnerable groups of customers are not included.

The code has been described by Ofgem as a “new voluntary code of practice [which] is a minimum standard that clearly sets out steps all suppliers must take before moving to a PPM which will place a voluntary ban on forcibly installing prepayment meters in the homes of customers over 85 and will make representatives wear body cameras as part of a new code of conduct.”

Bills continue to rise

Even with these new plans, millions of people across the UK still can’t afford to heat their homes. Energy bills continue to rise. And, from July, the average household will still pay double what they were in 2021 on their energy bill.

Through our energy advice line, CSE advisors hear more and more from people in absolutely desperate circumstances every day. Keeping healthily warm is a basic human right and it’s wrong that so many people are struggling with cold homes and seriously worried about money.

We urgently need a long term plan to fix our broken energy system. This means targeted support for people on low incomes. We need a strategy to improve homes so they so they don’t leak heat.

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