The UK government has revealed that OVO Energy, Scottish Power and British Gas have been responsible for over 70% of forced prepayment meter installations in 2022.
The new data revealed that over 94,000 prepayment meters were installed under warrant in 2022 with both Scottish Power and British Gas cited as “leading the pack”. On average, over 7,500 meters had been installed without customer consent a month.
Of the prepayment meters installation figures, British Gas, Scottish Power and OVO Energy contributed to 66,187 of these. The government said Scottish Power tops the list as the worst offender when taking into account their customer base – force-fitting over 24,300 in their customer’s homes in 2022.
Forced prepayment installation allegations had been raised by energy security secretary Grant Shapps earlier this year in which he called for an investigation into the issue.
Ofgem recently called on suppliers to use a pause to rectify some of the wrongly installed meters in vulnerable customers’ homes. The regulator also called for compensation to be awarded from any wrongdoing.
Shapps has again called on any mistreatment of customers to be rectified, while urging suppliers to help the households on traditional prepayment metres access the 2.1 million vouchers yet to be claimed under the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme. Good Energy, Utilita and Scottish Power ranked amongst the lowest for these voucher redemption rates.
“Today’s figures give a clear and horrifying picture of just how widespread the forced installation of prepayment meters had become, with last year seeing an average of over 7,500 force-fitted a month,” Shapps said.
“Prepayment meters are right for some people, so I do not want to ban them outright, but I do have concerns that companies have not been treating their customers fairly, over an already difficult winter during which the government has tried to help families by paying around half the energy bill of the average household.”
Shapps did however draw upon the positives from energy suppliers and the action they have taken since the investigation into prepayment meters started. He also highlighted the ongoing Ofgem review into the matter.
“After my calls for change, I’m pleased that suppliers have made their actions public and agreed to put a stop to forcing prepayment onto vulnerable customers for good – but this cannot happen again,” Shapps said.
“I will be watching Ofgem’s ongoing review closely so customers get the support they need – and those vulnerable consumers who have wrongly suffered forced installations get the justice they deserve in the form of redress.”