Smart prepayment for a smarter market
We welcome the opportunity to respond to Ofgem’s consultation on smart prepay. We have been involved extensively in Ofgem’s Consumer Empowerment and Protection project, attending meetings, providing evidence through information requests and other data, and presenting findings to industry to support our calls for better consumer outcomes.
Smart meters offer an opportunity to improve the payment options, information and service available to prepay consumers. We want the potential of a smart world to transform the prepay market to become a reality.
We broadly supports the proposals that Ofgem has made for smart prepayment in this consultation document. The proposed changes to the Social Obligations Reporting data will go some way toward better understanding self disconnection - however we would welcome a commitment that the regulator will consider whether suppliers will be expected to monitor and report on frequency of top up in the future. It is in both supplier and consumer interest that the potential for smart meter data to prevent self-disconnection is explored as soon as possible – this should not be delayed until post 2020.
Prepayment meter users are more likely to be on lower incomes and/or in vulnerable circumstances compared to the average energy customer . It is essential that these consumers are able to realise the benefits of smart metering - from cheaper and more tariffs to virtual top-ups to tailored support and communications from suppliers. The innovation and flexibility anticipated with smart prepay should make it a more attractive option to all consumers and should also address the stigma that has traditionally been associated with prepay energy.