Grant Shapps has referred to as on vitality bosses to spell out what remedial motion they’re taking to cope with prospects who’ve had prepayment meters wrongfully forcibly put in of their houses, warning the regulator dangers being fired wool on the eyes by suppliers.
Vitality regulator Ofgem final week ordered suppliers to halt the follow of forcibly putting in meters, following an article within the Occasions newspaper.
A secret investigation by the newspaper revealed that British Fuel third-party contractor Arvato Monetary Options was putting in the meters within the houses of weak prospects.
The enterprise secretary referred to as on vitality suppliers to report back to his division by Tuesday, outlining their plans to help prospects affected by measures equivalent to compensation.
Shapps additionally urged Ofgem to introduce a brand new reporting system permitting prospects to report their expertise of coping with vitality firms and referred to as on the regulator to strengthen its evaluation constructions.
Ofgem had awarded British Fuel first place in two evaluations carried out within the second half of final yr, which assessed how suppliers have been coping with prospects deemed weak or struggling to pay their vitality payments.
“I’m appalled that weak prospects battling their vitality payments have had their houses invaded and pre-payment meters put in when suppliers are clearly required to supply them with help,” the enterprise secretary mentioned. “They should refocus their efforts on their shoppers, the British public, who’re the victims of this heinous habits.
“I am additionally involved that the regulator is just too simply uncovered by taking at face worth what the vitality firms inform them. They need to additionally hearken to prospects to make sure that this therapy of weak shoppers doesn’t occur once more. »
In current months, shopper teams have warned of a rising variety of suppliers imposing costly prepayment meters on late-paying prospects. Client organizations equivalent to Residents Recommendation have referred to as for the follow to be banned till new protections for purchasers are launched.
Ofgem launched what it referred to as a main market-wide evaluation of prepayment meter installations that may evaluation potential license violations that drive progress.
Earlier this week Jonathan Brearley, chief government of Ofgem, mentioned he had requested suppliers to evaluation using courtroom warrants. “Distributors should reassure us that the processes for purchasers transferred to PPMs adjust to all Ofgem guidelines and till that is performed we have now requested them to droop pressured installations” , did he declare.
Chris O’Shea, chief government of British Fuel proprietor Centrica, mentioned the corporate would droop the follow and apologized for what he described as “deeply disturbing” allegations.
Extra report by Nathalie Thomas.