Vitality suppliers are set to power susceptible British households to modify to costly prepayment electrical energy and gasoline meters at a fee of 10,000 meters a month by the tip of 2022, as customers fall behind with common funds.
Knowledge from the vitality regulator Ofgem confirmed the variety of prepayment meters fitted in houses rising on a quarterly foundation for the primary time since 2019, regardless of authorities intervention aimed toward shielding households from hovering wholesale gasoline and energy costs.
Worth comparability web site Uswitch, which obtained the figures through a freedom of data request, predicted that if the pattern continued there can be 10,000 installations a month by the tip of the yr.
That may take the full variety of fitted meters to 7.5mn, up from 7.35mn within the final quarter of 2021. Some houses could have multiple meter.
The rise in prepayment meters is an early signal of misery within the vitality market. Though a minority of households select to pay for his or her vitality consumption upfront, the bulk are pushed into utilizing them by suppliers in the event that they fall behind with common funds. Households usually pay for his or her vitality after utilizing it.
Gasoline poverty campaigners have highlighted the dangers of households “self- rationing” in the event that they can’t afford to high up their meters.
The forecasts will add to concern that many households will wrestle this winter regardless of the federal government’s pledge to restrict typical family vitality payments to £2,500 a yr till April by proscribing the value per unit of electrical energy or gasoline suppliers can cost. However the cap remains to be nearly double what the common family paid final winter.
Outgoing prime minister Liz Truss initially promised the assist would final two years however chancellor Jeremy Hunt final week lowered it to 6 months.
He stated the Treasury would overview the coverage after April and search to focus on “essentially the most susceptible”. The price of the unique bundle had been estimated at £150bn.
Richard Neudegg, Uswitch’s director of regulation, stated the rise in prepayment meters prompt households have been “more and more in danger this winter”.
“Households and people on prepayment meters will probably be plunged into darkness as they self-disconnect once they can’t afford to high up,” stated Neudegg, as he urged the Treasury to prioritise these households in its April overview.
Households on prepayment meters must pay extra for his or her vitality below Britain’s value cap due to the upper prices incurred by suppliers in servicing them.
Peter Smith, director of coverage on the charity Nationwide Vitality Motion, referred to as the forecasts “actually worrying” and criticised suppliers for occasionally defaulting “too rapidly” to putting in prepayment meters “regardless of this usually not being wished by the shopper”.
EnergyUK, a commerce physique that represents firms together with Centrica, EDF Vitality, ScottishPower and SSE, stated “suppliers provide a variety of how to pay for vitality” and that “clients could discover prepayment meters an efficient means to assist them handle their funds and monitor their vitality utilization”.