Rip-Off Britain: Iona talks about the energy crisis

What should you do if you’re struggling with energy costs? Iona appeared on Rip-off Britain (and briefly on the first Morning Live of a new run) to kick off a special Cost of Living week. Here, she gives more info on what you should do if you’ve been moved onto a prepayment meter, or if that’s a imminent risk…

A survey conducted jointly by Rip Off Britain, @bbcmorninglive and @bbcnews found more than half of people say energy costs have gone up the most for them in recent times, and that’s especially worrying if you’re on a prepayment meter. A third of people have gone onto prepayment meters, and over half have been forced to self-disconnect at least once over the past 6 months.

 

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It’s very worrying that people are being moved onto prepayment meters when there is a very high chance that this will force them to go without heating or electricity.

The problem is that if you have a smart meter, your supplier doesn’t have to get a court warrant in order to forcibly install a prepayment meter – the switchover can happen remotely without warning.

However, suppliers should not be switching you over if you wouldn’t be able to afford top-ups or you have an illness or disability that would be exacerbated by being on a prepayment meter.

Your supplier should offer you other ways to pay back your debts, whether it’s through repayment plans or payments through benefits, before resorting to a prepayment meter.

You should also be able to switch back to a normal meter if you have a disability/illness that makes reading a meter hard, or if having a prepayment meter makes that disability/illness worse.

The most important thing is to speak to your supplier as soon as you start experiencing problems, and if you’re not happy with their response, make a complaint or speak to Citizens Advice.

Getting on the Priority Services Register can really help if you’re vulnerable. If you’re at risk of disconnection, speak to your supplier about extra temporary credit and remember that The Fuel Bank Foundation offers top-up vouchers worth up to £49 to those with a referral from foodbanks and advice agencies.

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