Today I’ve launched a campaign to end the ‘PrePay Rip Off’ scandal which forces poor families to pay a £226 tax to heat their homes and put food on the table.
Prepayment meters cost on average £226 a year more than paying for energy by direct debit. This forces the poorest to pay over the odds on their gas and electricity bills and then choose between heating and eating.
It’s about people like Mr Hamilton in my constituency who went to use his cooker one day to find he was left without any gas. He found a letter notifying him of his disconnection and prepayment meter installation on his doormat. Mr Hamilton, who suffers from health problems, had no means of switching the gas back on and was left in the cold for a further 48 hours and was left with just £10 emergency credit for nearly a month.
The ‘PrePay Rip Off’ is getting worse, not better, under David Cameron and George Osborne. Since 2010 the number of people forced to use prepayment meters in England has risen from 5.3 million to 6.3 million people. If the current trend continues there’ll be 8.4 million people on prepayment by 2019, a rise of 56 per cent since 2010.
The additional costs of prepayment meters are causing hardship and suffering for millions of people. Last month the Office for National Statistics confirmed of the 43,900 Excess Winter Deaths last year, an estimated 13,000 were due to cold homes. And there is growing evidence that the cost of prepayment meters are driving people to rely on food banks to make ends meet.
My campaign to end the ‘Prepay Rip Off’ urges the government and energy companies to take five simple steps:
- Cut the cost of prepayment meters in line with the cheapest direct debit fuel tariffs saving consumers £226 a year
- End debt collection by energy companies during the winter (as Scottish Energy have done)
- Ensure homes with pensioners, disabled people and children don’t have prepayment meters fitted
- Stop installation of prepayment meters during the winter
- Prioritise prepayment customers in the smart meter UK rollout.
If you agree with me that it’s time to end the ‘Prepay Rip Off’ please sign the petition I’ve launched today.
The energy companies make huge profits and can easily afford to end the unfairness of prepayment meters which force the poorest to pay £226 a year more on their fuel bills than everyone else.
Let’s end the ‘Prepay Rip Off’ once and for all.
Dawn Butler is for MP Brent Central. You can find more information about the ‘PrePay Rip Off’ campaign here