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
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.