Government to help the vulnerable with energy bills during the coronavirus crisis

19 March 2020

Customers using pre-payment energy meters are told they won't lose their supply during the pandemic

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Vulnerable energy customers who use pay-as-you-go energy meters will not have their supply cut off during the coronavirus crisis, the Government has announced.

The energy industry has agreed new emergency measures with the Government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

From today, over four million customers with pre-payment meters who are unable to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied.

Measures include nominating a third-party for credit top-ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top-up card so that their supply is not interrupted.

Disconnection of credit meters will also be completely suspended, while energy customers in financial difficulty will be supported by their supplier. This could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused.

Secretary of State for Business and Energy, Alok Sharma, says: “While friends and family will play a role in helping people impacted by the coronavirus, we recognise there will be many customers who will need additional support and reassurance, particularly those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances.

“The Government has committed to do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic. Today those most in need can rest assured that a secure supply of energy will continue to flow into their homes during this difficult time."

The move comes after discussions between the Government and the energy industry aimed at helping those customers most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Experts believe that people working from home during the crisis are likely to see their energy bills soar as they use more heating, electricity and broadband.

Chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, says: “This is an uncertain time for many people. Energy suppliers need to play their part by communicating clearly and supporting their customers as much as possible. Keeping people on supply, making sure they have warm homes and don’t face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential.

“Suppliers will need to put in place support measures for people on prepayment meters, people and families who need to self-isolate or take steps to reduce social contact, and people who may otherwise be in vulnerable situations.”

What should you do if you can’t top up your meter?

Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply.

Ofgem recommends consumers leave the meter box unlocked if they need someone else to top up the meter.

Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.

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