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Energy: Meters

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 7th January 2020.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on people on low incomes of increasing the minimum top up amount on a prepayment meter; and whether she has had discussions with (a) British Gas and (b) other energy providers on such a change.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

British Gas are introducing a minimum top up of £5 for most of their prepayment customers starting on 1 January. This is a commercial decision of British Gas. Although a £5 minimum top up is not uncommon practice amongst suppliers, there are many that offer a minimum top up of £1.

BEIS officials are liaising with Ofgem to confirm whether they were given prior notification of British Gas’ decision, and also that British Gas has met its obligation to treat customers fairly and ensure that each customer was provided with information about the assistance and advice that is available to them.

Customers are protected through the price caps on standard variable and prepayment meter tariffs. A key challenge now is for suppliers to put the consumer first and improve their customer service.

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