New emergency measures with the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19.
From today customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This will benefit over 4 million customers.
This could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.
Any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.
The government and energy industry have agreed to prioritise those existing customers most in need, while identifying customers whose circumstances may have changed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Dame Gillian Guy, said: "This is an uncertain time for many people. Energy suppliers need to play their part by communicating clearly and supporting their customers as much as possible. Keeping people on supply, making sure they have warm homes and don’t face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential.
"Suppliers will need to put in place support measures for people on prepayment meters, people and families who need to self-isolate or take steps to reduce social contact, and people who may otherwise be in vulnerable situations.
"The measures set out and agreed will be implemented immediately by energy suppliers to alleviate pressure on energy customers."
Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply. Ofgem recommends consumers leave the meter box unlocked if they need someone else to top up the meter. Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.