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Citizens Advice response to Ofgem proposals to improve outcomes for PPM consumers

31 March 2016

Citizens Advice consultation response to Ofgem, February 2016 [ 130 kb]

Citizens Advice is pleased to respond to this consultation. The prepayment market has for too long been characterised by poor consumer experience: lack of choice, lack of engagement and a second-class service. The Competition and Markets Authority recently proposed a number of possible remedies to address the lack of competition in the prepay segment and we await the publication of their final remedies. We welcome Ofgem’s proposals to end unfair charging practices and improve supplier behaviour during debt-related activities.

As many of the existing problems in this market are linked to the traditional metering technology, Citizens Advice remains hopeful that the rollout of smart meters will bring improvements for prepayment customers. One aspect of this is the end to installation and removal charges as it will be possible to switch smart meters remotely between credit and prepay mode. However, prepayment customers should not have to wait until they receive a smart meter to benefit from these improvements. The rollout is not due to be completed before 2020 at the earliest and the number of consumers using traditional prepayment meters is continuing to rise. There must be urgent intervention to ensure fair treatment of prepayment customers in the meantime.