Children need protection from energy disconnection

We continue to have serious concerns about children affected by energy insecurity and fuel poverty. Ofgem has published a Code of Practice for suppliers on involuntary installation of Prepayment meters (PPMs), however, we are concerned that it has failed to address several issues affecting children who are vulnerable.

We are calling for:

  • Children to have the right to be be protected from energy disconnection 
  • Ofgem to strengthen the Code of Practice and for it to be written into suppliers’ licence conditions
  • UK Government to use all of its powers to protect children’s rights 

Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson: 

“Children’s right to an adequate standard of living includes having a warm home and hot nutritious food. Energy insecurity can have a direct impact on the right to life and development, on physical and mental health, and on education and socialisation. Installation of an involuntary prepayment meter is often tantamount to disconnecting heat and power from homes where there are children who are vulnerable. We continue to be clear that children need to have the right to protection from energy disconnection.  

“While Ofgem’s Code of Practice has addressed some of our concerns, it falls short in several areas.   Worryingly, it still allows for smart meters to be switched to PPM mode remotely without legal oversight, and it is not sufficiently clear on assessment of risk. Children face disproportionately higher risks of poverty and the Code must provide automatic protection for children of all ages under the high-risk category.  

“A strengthened version of the Code must be written into suppliers’ license conditions as a matter of urgency in order to ensure children’s rights are protected. We are writing to Ofgem to set out our suggestions for amendments to the Code of Practice and will continue to call on the UK Government to use all of the powers and levers at its disposal to protect children’s rights.” 

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