Ofgem has published proposals to cap charges for installing prepayment meters under warrant. An option in the consultation includes placing a firm limit on charges of £100 or £150. The proposals also include plans to ban prepayment meters warrant installation charges for the most vulnerable customers.
When customers fall in debt, one option is for their supplier to install a prepayment meter under warrant. Installing a PPM under warrant should be a last resort for recovering debt, to resolve situations where consumers can’t or won’t engage with suppliers to agree a resolution.
Under current rules, suppliers can charge warrant costs back to affected customers. These charges, which can include court costs, can range from £200 up to £900. In 2015, customers faced an average bill of £400 for having their PPM installed under warrant, risking pushing them more into debt.
Ofgem’s proposals aim to protect consumers from experiencing more debt or hardship due to warrant installations. These include capping at £100 or £150 warrant charges for all customers.
These also include plans to entirely prohibit prepayment meter warrant charges, and installations, for the most vulnerable customers. This includes people in financial hardship, and people with physical and mental health issues and learning difficulties. Consumer research shows that prepayment meter consumers are more likely to be vulnerable.
Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem’s senior partner for consumers and competition said “It’s deeply unfair that struggling customers get hit with high warrant costs when they’re already grappling with debt, doubly penalising them. Ofgem’s role is to protect every consumer, including the most vulnerable. Suppliers need to help customers manage their debts. Suppliers need to ensure that PPMs are only installed under warrant as an absolute last resort. Where they are needed, our proposals will protect customers by limiting prepayment meter warrant charges for all customers and removing them for the most vulnerable.”