Prepayment meters are a method of paying for energy whereby customers put credit on their account before using energy rather than receiving bills for their usage. This allows customers to manage their energy use and finances more closely than waiting for quarterly or monthly bills.
Energy UK Prepayment Principles
In 2016, Energy UK launched ten principles to provide improved safeguards for prepayment customers. The prepayment principles cover the majority of energy consumers in the UK with small, medium and larger suppliers signed up to them.
These principles are updated from 2011 when Citizen’s Advice (then Consumer Focus) developed five key prepayment principles to raise standards of service for customers paying for their energy using a prepayment meter. The principles were launched on behalf of the six largest suppliers.
These renewed principles will ensure suppliers are monitoring prepayment accounts to identify customers who might be at risk of facing financial difficulties. Suppliers may also provide discretionary credit as well as signposting customers to debt advice and financial support where appropriate. The principles also provide assurances about existing protections for prepayment customers. The updated principles had 12 suppliers as signatories at the time of launch, October 2016: Bristol Energy, British Gas, Cooperative Energy, Ecotricity, EDF, E.ON, First Utility, Good Energy, npower, ScottishPower, SSE and Utility Warehouse. Utilita became signatories in November 2016 and both Tonik Energy and Bulb became signatories in July 2018. In August 2018, TOTO Energy became signatories and in November 2018, Together Energy became signatories to the PPM principles. In March 2019 both Octopus and E became signatories to the PPM principles.
Smart Prepayment Change of Supplier Principles
Energy UK worked with industry to develop smart prepayment change of supplier principles to provide improved safeguards for smart meter prepayment customers switching supplier.
By signing up to the principles Suppliers take responsibility to provide information and support to ensure that customers who have a smart meter in prepayment mode feel empowered throughout the switching process.
With most small, medium and large UK energy suppliers having signed up to the principles, their customers will benefit from the improved processes. Suppliers that have signed the principles, agree to implement them as they roll out smart prepayment.
The following energy suppliers are signatories to the smart prepayment switching principles are: British Gas, Utilita, Boost, Npower, Scottish Power, SSE, EDF Energy, Utility Warehouse, Green Star Energy, Extra Energy, Bristol Energy, Toto Energy.
How prepayment meters help to avoid disconnection
Many customers choose to pay for their energy via a prepayment meter (PPM), often because it helps with budgeting. PPMs are also used to help avoid disconnections. Suppliers will not install a PPM unless it is safe and practical to do so.