Statement: Ofgem must do more to protect children’s rights from impact of forced pre-payment meters and energy disconnection 

Commissioner shares disappointment at Ofgem decision

Illustration of a pre-payment meter with the number of kW-h at 999996

This week, energy regulator Ofgem granted permission for three companies to restart force-fitting pre-payment meters. Our office has been working on this issue – and the impact it has on children’s rights – since 2022. 

Nicola Killean, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said: “We are disappointed to see that some energy companies can resume force-fitting pre-payment meters (PPM) in homes. Children and families have been protected from this practice since we and many others raised serious concerns last winter to regulator Ofgem and the UK Government. We warned that poor practice and inadequate regulation was leading to a significant risk of de facto disconnection for children and families living in the most vulnerable circumstances. Disabled children who rely on electrical medical equipment were at particular risk.     

“Today, hundreds of thousands of children remain in poverty, further exacerbated by high inflation and the cost of living. Experiencing poverty and energy insecurity can severely affect a child’s development and have a negative impact on their rights to mental and physical health, education, family relationships, standard of living, aspirations and life chances.  

“Ofgem has strengthened its PPM guidance in some of the ways we requested last year. It is positive that the guidance has been written into suppliers’ licence conditions, and that it recognises very young children as a group deserving of automatic protection from forced installation. However, we do not consider it goes far enough to ensure children are protected from the risk and consequences of energy disconnection.     

“We urge Ofgem to consider further strengthening the guidance to better protect all children. Our office will continue to explore other ways of protecting children and families from forced installation, including by encouraging a more robust approach by the courts to scrutiny of warrant applications.” 

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