– in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2023.
I draw the attention of the First Minister to the experience of a constituent of mine, who has informed me that they were told to make an in-store purchase ahead of using a PayPoint facility to top up their energy meter. PayPoint has confirmed to me that that should never happen, and it has contacted the business in question. Does the First Minister agree that, although the vast majority of PayPoint vendors are professional and provide an important service, where unacceptable practices exist, such as the one that I have just highlighted, they should be reported swiftly and acted upon? Does she also agree that my constituent’s experience highlights yet again the barriers and vulnerabilities that many people who use prepayment meters face?
I very much agree with that. I echo Bob Doris’s concerns and what he has said in response to them.
I am aware of similar issues, and I urge people to raise their concerns with advice agencies and their energy providers to get the necessary advice and support. However, because such issues relate to a reserved matter it is incumbent on the United Kingdom Government to take further action on prepayment meters. Forcing people on to those meters, in particular for small amounts of debt during winter, makes matters worse for people—not better—and is more likely to increase debt and leave people unable to heat their homes. I urge the UK Government to respond to that concern and to listen to the many calls to ban energy companies from being able to force people on to the use of prepayment meters.