MSE News

British Gas doubles the emergency credit limit on prepayment meters to £10 - here's all you need to know

British Gas has doubled the amount of emergency credit available to customers on their gas and electricity prepayment meters from £5 to £10 in the wake of the recent spike in energy prices, although the energy giant previously had one of the lowest limits. 

The move means British Gas customers with prepayment meters will now have more emergency credit to dip into, although it must be paid back. The company said the change was in direct response to this month's increase in the energy price cap

We asked the other energy firms that provide prepayment meters whether they had plans to do the same, and the majority told us no (see below). However, most already have an emergency credit limit above £10. 

If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, see our guide for what to do and where to turn to if you need help. You can also read our Heat the Human not the Home guide for further tips.

The majority of energy firms already have an emergency credit limit of around £10

Here's what energy firms told us: 

  • Bulb said its gas prepayment meters also already have a credit limit of £10, while its electricity meters have a limit of £5. It said it has no plans to increase either. 
  • EDF told us it was "evaluating its options" for increasing the emergency limit. Currently, EDF customers have a limit of £6 for gas and electric on a traditional prepayment meter, and if they have a Smart PAYG meter it's £10.

  • Shell said its limit is already £10 and that the company has no plans to increase it as it is concentrating on other ways to help customers, including a £5 million fund to help those in financial hardship or debt. 
     
  • Utilita told us its emergency credit limit is already £15 and that it also has "friendly credit hours" between 2pm and 10am that means customers don't lose supply if they run out of credit.

We've also asked Octopus, Ovo and SSE for their current limits and whether they have any plans to increase them, and will update this story when we know more.

A QUICK NOTE: Always remember that when you dip into the emergency credit buffer it doesn't charge you the standing charge (the fixed charge you pay daily just to be connected), and so the next time you top up you will have to play catch-up, which can throw your budgeting out, so try not to use it too often.

Households set to get up to £350 in support to help with high energy bills

This is to help mitigate the steep rise in energy prices, and includes: 

  • A £200 "loan not loan" in October to all households. They'll get an automatic £200 discount on bills, regardless of the tariff. And from April 2023 they'll have a £40/year levy added to bills to effectively repay the discount. For full info, see Martin's video explainer.

  • A £150 council tax rebate in April to all households in England, Scotland and Wales for those in bands A to D. How it works depends on where people live – see our news stories for full info on the schemes in EnglandScotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland? It will receive a total of £100 million in funding to be able to put its own scheme in place, but we don't yet know exactly what it'll do with it though.

  • A £144 million discretionary fund for councils aimed at those on low incomes who don't qualify for help due to their council tax band. This is to help those on low incomes who don't qualify for the £150 support above because, for example, they're exempt from council tax. See our discretionary fund info.

There's also the Warm Home Discount (WHD) worth £150 which will be available to those on a low-income, who claim a means-tested benefit and have high energy costs. The scheme opens in October this year, so keep a look out for more info on how to apply nearer the time.  

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