Pre-pay Meters

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th May 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 12th May 2016

What her Department’s policy is on the implementation of the Competition and Markets Authority proposals for consumers on pre-pay meters.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

The Government agree with the Competition and Markets Authority that consumers on pre-pay meters are getting a poor deal. Supporting such consumers was at the heart of our decision to support the CMA investigation in the first place. The hon. Lady may have seen the estimate by Citizens Advice that 23% of households in her constituency have pre-payment meters, which is above the national average of 16%. That is why it is so important that we take on board the recommendations of the CMA following the publication of its final report.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons)

In Wales, a staggering one fifth of households are on pre-payment meters, paying up to £330 a year more for gas and electricity than those on the cheapest tariff. It is particularly important for Wales, and for those 7,200 households in my constituency, that we know which recommendations the Government will be working on with the CMA and Ofgem and when constituents will start to see the benefit. Can the Minister be specific?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

We do not yet have the specific recommendations, but the hon. Lady will, like me, be aware that what we have had proposed so far in the draft recommendations is a safeguard tariff for those people on pre-payment meters. It is not clear yet whether that will be temporary or long term, but we will look carefully at the recommendations of the CMA to get the best outcome for the most vulnerable customers, which, I know, is something that she desires as well.

Photo of Clive Lewis Clive Lewis Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change)

May I just push the Secretary of State once more on that, as the 4 million households who are still languishing on rip-off pre-payment meters would really like more detail from her? Given that the Government’s energy efficiency policies and fuel poverty strategy are in tatters, people would like more details on the timetable and when this will happen.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

It is typical of the Opposition party that it is unable to understand the concept of the CMA, which is preparing this report. It is up to the CMA to come forward with the final recommendations, and it is its recommendations that we will be following. I must take issue too with the hon. Gentleman’s reference to “tatters”. This Government are absolutely committed to helping the most vulnerable. We are proud of the work that we are doing to reform our various schemes so that we can support the most vulnerable, and that is something that we will continue to do to ensure that we always support the people most in need.

Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

May I press the Secretary of State a little further? My constituency of Heywood and Middleton is, sadly, in the top 50 for numbers of households with pre-payment meters, and my constituents are being ripped off. What can the Secretary of State tell me that I can tell my constituents about how long they will continue to be ripped off by pre-payment meters?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

I am sure that the hon. Lady has looked at the CMA’s report. It has a proposal for a safeguard tariff, and we welcome that. It is one of the key reasons why we were keen to propose this review by the CMA. We are expecting it to come forward with the final report soon. When it does so, we will act on the recommendations and hope that it will deliver what we and she hope it will, which is support for people on pre-payment meters, who are often the most vulnerable.