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Smart prepay energy user? MSE is urging firms to let you use Government payments on gas AND electricity – here's what each firm is doing

Smart prepay energy user? MSE is urging firms to let you use Government payments on gas AND electricity – here's what each firm is doing

MoneySavingExpert.com is calling on some of the biggest energy firms to make it possible for prepay customers with smart meters to use their £400 energy support payments on both electricity AND gas, as it's the gas meter that's crucial for many people's heating this winter. It is unfair – and potentially unsafe – not to let smart prepay users decide how to use the payment. See our round-up of what each company allows below.

Prepay users with traditional meters can already decide where best to use payments, which come in six monthly instalments between now and March 2023, as they're sent as a voucher they can use to top up their electricity OR gas. But for those with smart prepay meters, the payment is generally applied to their electricity meter by default – so they have less choice.

Many households using prepayment meters are vulnerable, and already pay more for their energy than others. As they pay upfront, they can't use gas if they don't have the available cash to put money on their meters. Combined with the wider cost of living crisis, this puts these people at a much higher risk of reaching a crisis point in the coming months. Some may simply not be able to afford to heat their homes.

While some suppliers are splitting the payment between gas and electricity, or letting customers move the payment on request, not all do. That's why we've written to the energy firms that don't, urging them to give ALL prepayment meter customers the flexibility to use their payments on both electricity AND gas – ahead of the second payment on 1 November.

We're also asking industry regulator Ofgem and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to support our campaign.

If you're struggling to pay for energy, whether you're on prepay or not, see our Energy bill help guide.

Here's what energy firms are currently doing

The Government's Energy Bills Support Scheme launched in October, and will see households in England, Scotland and Wales with a domestic electricity account get a non-repayable grant of £400 between October 2022 and March 2023. It'll be paid as £66 in October and November, then £67 from December to March.

Exactly how you'll get the discount depends on how your supplier. The table below lists the latest info for smart prepay users that we've been told by firms – but we'll keep pushing for ones that don't allow you to split payments to sort this.

For non-smart prepay users, see our How you'll receive the £400 energy bill discount from your supplier MSE News story for details on how you'll be paid the cash.

How major energy suppliers pay the £400 grant for smart prepay users

Supplier

Can you split the £66/£67 payments between your gas and electricity smart meters?

British Gas

 

Payment made to electricity meter only

Boost

 

Payment made to electricity meter only

Bulb

 

Payment made to electricity meter by default but you can switch it to gas by contacting Bulb

E.on / E.on Next

 

Payment split evenly between gas and electricity by default

EDF Energy

 

Payment made to electricity meter by default but you can switch it to gas by contacting EDF

Octopus Energy

 

Payment split evenly between gas and electricity by default

Ovo Energy

 

Payment made to electricity meter only

Scottish Power

 

Payment made to electricity meter only

Shell Energy

 

Payment split evenly between gas and electricity by default

So Energy

 

Payment made to electricity meter by default but you can switch it to gas by contacting So Energy

SSE

 

Payment made to electricity meter only

Utility Warehouse

 

Payment made to electricity meter by default but you can switch it to gas by contacting Utility Warehouse

What does the Government say? 

BEIS said it will respond to our letter in due course. It added that transferring grants from electricity meters to gas meters is technically allowed, though it encouraged energy suppliers to offer households "as much flexibility as possible". BEIS recommended households contact their supplier directly about this issue. 

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