Ofgem has given three energy suppliers permission to restart forcible entry to people’s homes to install prepayment meters after the practice was banned last February.  The fact that forcible entry has been restarted at the coldest time of year says a great deal about the degree to which Ofgem is prepared to protect customers.

The widespread practice of forcibly installing prepayment meters was stopped after it was shown that suppliers were ignoring rules relating to vulnerable customers.

However, Ofgem has now drawn up new conditions before companies can restart forced installations and has decided that EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power meet their requirements.

Before making a  forced installation, suppliers must make at least 10 attempts to contact the customer and carry out a site welfare visit before a prepayment meter is installed.

 High risk customers must not have a prepayment meter forced on them.  This includes:

  • Households which require a continuous supply for health reasons, including dependence on powered medical equipment
  • Households with an older occupant (aged 75+), without support in the house
  • Households with children aged under 2 years old
  • Households with residents with severe health issues including terminal illnesses or those with a medical dependency on a warm home (for example due to illness such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, sickle cell disease)
  • Where there is no one within the household that has the ability to top up the meter due to physical or mental incapacity.  

In other cases suppliers must, before making a decision, take into account:

  • Age: Children 5 and under
  • Other serious medical/Health Conditions (such as neurological diseases (Parkinson’s, Huntingdon’s
  •  Cerebral Palsy), respiratory conditions (COPD) and mobility limiting conditions (Osteoporosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Serious mental/developmental health conditions (such as clinical depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, learning difficulties, Schizophrenia)
  • Temporary situations (such as pregnancy, bereavement). 

Suppliers have to wear a bodycam when carrying out a site welfare visit and when forcibly installing meters.

They must also provide £30 credit when the prepayment meter is installed, so that the customer does not immediately face having no power.

Once any debts have been paid off, the case for continuing with a prepayment meter must be reconsidered.

You can read Ofgem’s guidance on forced installation of prepayment meters here.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Laura · 29 days ago
    I had a prepayment meter forcibly fitted 4 years ago due to debt accrued after having estimated billing by the company, with no adjustment to my DD for over 9 years. At the time that it was fitted, I had an active complaint in about this, had been diagnosed with clinical depression for 15 years and COPD/arthritis. When they fitted the meter, they also saw fit to disconnect my gas fire inlet pipe (saying it was unsafe) and condemn my boiler, telling me I shouldn't use it. This left me with no heating and no hot water...in the middle of February. I was also on the vulnerable user register. They simply did not care! They threatened me with the locksmith they had with them, wouldn't ring to check on the status of my complaint and then proceeded to question me, in my own home, in a rather aggressive and threatening manner. In fact, after their "representative" had left, the poor gas fitter who'd been left to install the meter, was so apologetic and, I think, in as much disbelief as I was! I tried to make a formal complaint about this treatment afterwards, but they simply didn't want to know, saying they'd followed all legal procedures and that I couldn't contact the Ombudsman as they had deemed the complaint "resolved" internally as a "business decision". I was gob smacked but by then, I was also too depressed to follow up, and simply withdrew. This had a very marked effect on my mental health. Since then, despite having an app on my phone, I am only able to obtain a balance and see payments to my account via an "annual" statement, sent out in approximately April of every year. It's also amazing that despite topping up my meter with a minimum of £80-£100 per month, I've still only decreased the amount owed by just over £400! I am so sick of being made to feel like a 2nd class citizen....Any changes in these laws would be very appreciated.
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      Ash6f · 9 days ago
      @Laura Hi I worked for energy company until I had to leave due to ill health and I know for a fact that the complaint procedure is still the same call them tell them that due to ill health and tge mental stress the caused you you did nit follow up but now you want to take this further you want tgem to reopen the original complaint and you want a deadlock letter from them and tell them what has happened if tgey say they can't do it tell them to passbook to a complaint specialist they don't want complaints going to ombudsman cause it cost them to much money just to even look at the complaint nearly 1k per complaint if they still refuse which under tge complaint handling process they are nor allowed to take there name the date of call and time so it can be tracked or better still follow this up with an email so you have a paper trail then go to ombudsman but call them don't do it on there website and explain why you do not have the deadlock that the company have refused to give you one. You see a complaint is not allowed to be closed unless the customer agrees with tge resolution and the inly time they can do it if it is something that they describe as a business decision which really was only meant to be used is simple complaints like the company's system has gone down and we cannot look at your account at the moment we will note you are not happy but as business decision we will close the complaint it is not meant to be used in a situation like yours they also not allowed to go ahead and fit a ppm or go to court warrant while a complaint is open you really need to call the company and be very firm with them and take it further 

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    Tanya · 1 months ago
    Also can I ask as the smart meter is sending data at runs off the electricity supply WHO is paying for the electricity to run it as it must cost more to run one and why should it be us who pays the cost to have something we don’t want and never asked to have in our homes? 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      John · 17 days ago
      @Tanya The communication hub is installed on the the supply line, before the meter. It won't cost you anything to run.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Tanya · 1 months ago
    Things need to change and only an uprising against the government and a change in power and the way we allow our country to be run will change this energy crisis. This is THEFT on every front simple energy should not be run for profit it’s necessity. Vile all of them. Everyone needs to pull together to demand a change in the way the country is governed then e can change ofgem and the rest of the crooks that say their on our side and helping us utter joke 
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    lesley · 1 months ago
    ps I mean that my new meter is a non smart meter.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    lesley · 1 months ago
    As for smart meters, they are not compulsory by the way.  I managed to get a legacy meter installed.  EDF kept bullying me telling me that my meter was out of date and that I must have a smart meter installed.  Absolutely not true.  Stuck to my guns and told them that I have electrical sensitivity which is true,  I have it on my medical records.  Got my new electric legacy meter installed just before Christmas.  I do not use wifi, hard wire all my devices, including my ipad,  do not have a smart phone, still using 2G talk and text for mobile.  2G around for at least another 10 years. Desk top which I am using now, hard wired with ethernet cable into router.
    Please do not be bamboozled believing that you have to have a smart meter.  Unless of course if you want one!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    lesley · 1 months ago
    What I would like to know that if a person is elderly or ill, how are they going to get out to top up the credit? All seems lke an absolutely perverted method to me!!
    I can recall when my first partner died and I was left with two small children to care for.  We had some very high electric bills which I could not pay.  The electric company came around and cut off my electricity.  How heartless could that be? I managed to get to the local social services office and they helped me.  (yes they had very compassionate local social services officers in those days)
    Things do not seem to get any better for claimants!! However, we do have millionaire PM whose only worry is can he keep his swimming pool filled with enough water?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Pet marks 3 · 1 months ago
    The forcible meter install it very dangerous because vulnerable and disabled customers would think there a burglars in their house that all energy companies should all stop this unsafe practice asap, it’s sick since the British Gas staff has forcibly entered into their home after the lock smith open the door to let debt agent install the prepayment meters into the vulnerable household last March 2023 it’s was shocking that they should be an outright bans to stop energy company force install it’s regarded as they are being criminal gangs.

    We would like to support the such practice to be banned asap to end force entry asap.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Susan G · 1 months ago
    This is also an opportunity for energy companies to fit smart meters - (the energy companies have annual targets to meet by 2025, these targets are set by the Government)  Smart meters are not 'fit for purpose' - although no-one is listening - could be another Post Office Scandal, if they dont get them sorted??......
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    Edward · 1 months ago
    Oh yea,h Ofgem does not help the general public in any way whatsoever as usual,  but allows these repulsive private energy companies to charge us double to what we were paying for energy before Russia invaded Ukraine even though the wholesale cost for the energy companies has gone back down to what they paid before Ukraine troubles! The irony is that the general public pays for Ofgem and along with the Gov they work only on behalf of private companies.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    DianaW · 1 months ago
    Surely "forcible entry has been restarted at the coldest time of year" isn't correct. Wasn't the power to do this merely suspended for a specified period, which happened to start in winter and therefore also ended in winter? If so, then this isn't a cynically-timed starting date for a new power but the automatic end to the suspension period.
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    Andrea · 1 months ago
    What are they going to do if a customer is in debt and has a medical condition which stops them from installing a prepayment meter,how is the customer going to pay the debt off 
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    Mike · 1 months ago
    How come Ofgem have such powers when involved with benefits claimants yet seem toothless when involved with the big companies supplying necessary services to all. No matter how many times they try to contact the household involved we know that mistakes happen. Only the police with court approval should have the powers to force an entry into the U.K. households.
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    mrfibro · 1 months ago
    Once again more bad news, whats next ?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      ian · 23 days ago
      @James h doesnt really matter who gets elected,,,they are ,,,ALL,,,innit together,!,,they are all the same,who work for the people behind them,,,so,,it doesnt matter who gets into the seat,,,NOTHING WILL CHANGE,,,,,,,,,never,,,,,,,
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      James h · 1 months ago
      @mrfibro @mr fibro a conservative election victory in November 2024 and rishi sunak still as prime minister 
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