One of the best things done by energy regulator Ofgem is to cap the Pre-payment meter installation charges. With effect from January 2018, this cap would help UK energy customers switch to pre-payment meters. Till now they had to pay up to £900 each for the installation cost which is a sum total of the court fees and cost associated with dog handlers or locksmiths, if they are needed.
If statistics are to be believed then around 40,000 people pay a heavy installation fee if the court orders their gas and electricity supplier to install a pre-payment meter. An average cost of £400 needs to be paid by the customers who are actually looking forward to getting cheap energy bills. Some of the UK energy suppliers are compassionate enough to waive off these charges and offer such meters for free. To maintain a balance, Ofgem has announced a Pre-payment meter cap which needs the customers to pay a maximum charge of £150.
Ofgem has also considered energy customers that cannot pay even this amount and have waived off their installation fee. This group includes customers that suffer from financial crunch or finds the experience of installation a traumatic one. Ofgem brings it to light that people who are forced to be on Pre-payment meters are those that already have issues paying their bills. They should not be weighed down by their gas and electricity suppliers with additional installation charges. Instead, they should be offered cheaper energy bills so as to survive the financial crunch.
To be implemented from January 2018, the cap would be a boon for the vulnerable customers as they will get cheap energy bills with minimum one-time installation costs. Rachel Fetcher, senior partner of Ofgem spoke on the matter by saying that “At the moment vulnerable customers face a double blow when they’re hit with high warrant charges on top of existing debt – risking making their situations worse. The measures will protect all consumers, including the most vulnerable, from experiencing unnecessary hardship due to having a meter installed under warrant.”
The energy regulator also warned all UK gas and electricity suppliers to keep shifting customers on pre-payment meters as the last resort. They should be offered the repayment plans and other solutions to resolve their energy debts. The icing on the cake is that Ofgem would be capping the price of energy for all the Pre-payment meter customers. This is a clear hint that those who struggle with paying energy bills would be charge with minimum energy costs. From April 2018, they would get cheaper energy bills and use energy effectively.
To sum up, the government and energy regulator Ofgem are taking necessary steps to save people from fuel poverty and helping the vulnerable ones to save on energy bills. It is slowly and steadily taking measures to ensure that UK home energy customers get cheap energy bills to minimize their utility budget. In addition, it is making strict laws to keep the gas and electricity suppliers under control so that poor customers get fair deals and cheaper energy bills.
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