To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with utility companies on reducing the number of instances where electricity is supplied without charge to the user.
BEIS Ministers and officials meet energy companies to discuss a range of issues.
Ofgem rules require energy suppliers to engage with their customers when they become aware they may be in payment difficulty and offer the opportunity to repay money owed through a repayment plan.
Energy suppliers can ultimately disconnect customers who fail to agree, or stick to an agreed repayment plan. Alternatives to disconnection include recovery of debt directly from certain benefits or the installation of prepayment meter, either by agreement or under a warrant to recover the money owed, but only where it is safe and reasonably practicable to do so.
Vulnerable customers, eligible for the Priority Services Register, cannot be disconnected during the winter months (1 October- 31 March) and many suppliers have signed a ‘safety net’, a pledge to never knowingly disconnect a vulnerable customer at any time of year.
Suppliers should signpost vulnerable customers in debt to impartial advice and specialist support services, such as the Extra Help Unit, run by Citizens Advice.