Grant Shapps has referred to as on vitality bosses to spell out what remedial motion they’re taking to cope with clients who wrongly had prepayment meters forcibly put in of their properties, warning that the regulator risked having the wool pulled over its eyes by suppliers.
Vitality regulator Ofgem final week ordered suppliers to droop the observe of forcibly putting in the meters, following a report within the Occasions newspaper.
An undercover investigation by the paper discovered that British Gasoline third-party contractor Arvato Monetary Options was putting in the meters within the properties of susceptible clients.
The enterprise secretary has referred to as on vitality suppliers to report back to his division by Tuesday, outlining their plans to help affected clients by means of measures reminiscent of compensation.
Shapps has additionally urged Ofgem to ascertain a brand new reporting system to permitting clients to file their expertise of coping with the vitality corporations and referred to as on the regulator to strengthen its reviewing buildings.
Ofgem had awarded British Gasoline the highest rating in two opinions carried out within the second half of final yr, which assessed how suppliers have been coping with clients who have been deemed susceptible or who have been struggling to pay their vitality payments
“I’m appalled that susceptible clients fighting their vitality payments have had their properties invaded and prepayment meters put in when there’s a clear responsibility on suppliers to supply them with help,” the enterprise secretary stated. “They should refocus their efforts on their customers, the British public, who’re on the receiving finish of this abhorrent behaviour.
“I’m additionally involved the regulator is simply too simply having the wool pulled over their eyes by taking at face worth what vitality corporations are telling them. They should additionally take heed to clients to verify this remedy of susceptible customers doesn’t occur once more.”
Client teams have in latest months warned of a rising variety of suppliers imposing costly prepayment meters on clients who’ve fallen into arrears. Client organisations reminiscent of Residents Recommendation have referred to as for a ban on the observe till new protections for purchasers have been launched.
Ofgem has launched what it referred to as a main marketwide evaluate of prepayment meter installations that may look into potential breaches of licences driving the expansion.
Earlier this week, Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief government, stated that he had requested suppliers to evaluate using court docket warrants. “Suppliers must reassure us that the processes for purchasers being moved on to PPMs are compliant with all Ofgem guidelines and, till that is performed, we have now requested them to pause pressured installations,” he stated.
Chris O’Shea, chief government of British Gasoline proprietor Centrica, has stated that the corporate would droop the observe and apologised for what it described as “deeply disturbing” allegations.
Further reporting by Nathalie Thomas.
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