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Improving support for prepay customers self-disconnecting

20 April 2018

Self-disconnection’ [ 3.8 mb] is defined as interruption to electricity or gas supply by consumers using pre payment meters (PPMs) because of a lack credit on the meter or account.

This new report explores the current experience of prepayment meter users, focusing on the experience of households who lack the funds to keep their meters topped up.

What we found:

  1. 16% of consumers with a prepayment meter (PPM) are running out of credit on their meter each year - same as in 2014.
  2. 50% said that keeping their PPM topped up and connected is a major daily concern.
  3. Around 140,000 households could not afford to top-up their PPM in the last 12 months.
  4. 88% of these households contained a child or someone with long term health issues.
  5. 87% of these households were on benefits.
  6. Only 9% of these households had contacted their supplier for help.

What we want to happen now:

Energy suppliers should review processes for identifying whether a household is at risk of harm from self-disconnection before a prepayment meter is installed.

Where vulnerable people are put onto PPMs, suppliers should use new opportunities offered by smart to ensure they stay on supply.

DWP and Jobcentres should improve coordination with suppliers to ensure vulnerable customers are given help to prevent self-disconnection through a change in benefits.

Energy UK should use its upcoming vulnerability commission to produce a clear offer of support to those who have self disconnected.

The government should use the Warm Home Discount scheme to encourage consistent provision of non-refundable discretionary credit.