Government and suppliers agree on measures to support vulnerable energy customers
The Government and energy suppliers have agreed to new emergency measures to protect people's energy supply during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), from today (Thursday 19 March) customers with prepayment meters that may not be able to head out to their usual shop to top up should speak to suppliers about the support being offered.
This includes allowing you to nominate a third party (such as a friend or family member) to help you top up, have your supplier add a discretionary fund to your meter, or to be sent top up cards or keys preloaded with credit to ensure your supply is not interrupted.
We revealed these measures earlier this week after speaking to suppliers directly – see Topping up prepaid energy while self-isolating for company-by-company info, as what each firm can do differs (if any policies change in light of this latest announcement, we will update our Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights guide).
BEIS also announced measures to support standard credit meter customers, including completely suspending the disconnection of credit meters. Other support includes debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused.
Customers that are unable to top up their prepayment meter, or are on standard credit meters but are struggling to pay their bill, should contact their supplier as soon as possible. If you have a non-urgent query, suppliers are asking people to contact them via email or live chat at first, to keep phone lines open for customers in more vulnerable situations.
What does the Government say?
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "While friends and family will play a role in helping people impacted by the coronavirus, we recognise there will be many customers who will need additional support and reassurance, particularly those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances.
"The Government has committed to do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic. Today those most in need can rest assured that a secure supply of energy will continue to flow into their homes during this difficult time."