Stratford-on-Avon CAB are running a campaign to ‘Get a Better Deal for Prepayment Users’, as part of this they are conducting a survey called ‘Left out in the cold.’
If you’d like to take part in the survey then then you can download it here.
With fuel prices as they are, I think this is a worthwhile campaign – but please note that it closes on December 17th. You can print it from the link above and drop it off at either the Town Council, or if you live near me my house (but please put it in an envelope if you do that). I’ve printed the explanatory letter from the CAB below.
LEFT OUT IN THE COLD:
Help us get a Better Deal for Prepayment Meter Energy Users
Ignored by government initiatives, local authorities and the media and treated as second-class citizens by energy providers, we urge you to support our Campaign for “ A Better Deal for Prepayment Meter Energy Users”.
What should you do?
Help us to undertake an extensive survey of those who prepay for gas and electricity.
Sign the e-petition which will be launched in the winter
Want to know why?
Around 5.9 million consumers who prepay for their energy usage through Prepayment Meters (PPM’s) pay more for their gas and electricity than those on standard credit meters who are billed after use or pay by direct debit.
Unlike the majority of energy users, they are unable to access the best energy deals and discounts on the market or lock into fixed price deals. This means they can neither cut the cost of their fuel bills or protect themselves against price rises in the future.
Prepay energy users face an additional barrier to competitive and cheaper tariffs. If they wish to move on to a credit meter they may have to pay between £50 and £200; a prohibitive cost for those on low incomes who are regularly putting between £20- £30 a week into their meters, rising to £50-£60 in the winter.
Predominantly found in social housing and private rented accommodation, PPM’s are usually installed by energy suppliers as a means of recouping past arrears for electricity and gas by deducting a fixed amount every time the card or key is topped up. Combined with rising fuel costs. many of the most vulnerable low income households find they are unable to cover their other
outgoings and debts during the winter months as they have no alternative but to put more money into their meter. Deprivation at every turn.
This is particularly true of families with young children who are hit hard when prices rise yet still have to maintain a continuous cycle of washing and drying clothes. Like the elderly, disabled and unemployed who are more likely to remain in their homes during the winter months, they have to continually “top up” their card or key to keep their homes warm or move on to Emergency Credit (EC) when their prepayment runs out.
Lack of information and understanding of effective PPM management means those who prepay are frequently unaware that a daily standing charge is deducted from their payments nor that when they are on EC, standing charges and arrears deductions cease. When they next top up their payment has to cover the EC used, missed standing charges and arrears deductions. This leaves a minimal amount for current usage thus creating a cycle of continuous fuel debt.
This is exacerbated if a PPM user without transport does not live within walking distance of a “top-up” facility; even more so in rural villages without a regular bus service or the money to pay for the fare.
If we are going to succeed in reducing Fuel Poverty in Warwickshire we must take the lead in campaigning for:
The option of Fixed tariffs for Prepayment Users
Free transfer to Credit Meters if no arrears for 3 months
Quarterly Easy to Read statements identifying standing charges and deductions for arrears on a weekly basis
Clear Instruction Manuals on Self-Meter Reading and Meter Management to be sent to new customers and
Thereafter sent out with Annual Statement including a breakdown on the cost of Emergency Credit used
Automatic ring-back service from Customer Service
Contact Marilyn Price on 01789 200131 for questionnaires or email Marilyn.firstname.lastname@example.org