140,000 Households Left Without Gas Or Electricity
Research from Citizens Advice has found that 140,000 households in Great Britain (around 400,000 people) have been left without gas or electricity because they didn’t have enough money to top up their prepayment meter.
The vast majority of these households (120,000) have people living there who may be particularly vulnerable to being without heat and power, such as a child or someone with a long-term health condition.
Of the 140,000 households that self-disconnected - when prepay energy customers lose supply of energy to their home due to a lack of funds on the meter - because they couldn’t afford to cover their energy costs:
- 50% had someone with a mental health condition
- 33% contained a young child
- 87% were in receipt of benefits
The charity is concerned by findings which show that just 9% people who self-disconnected because they could not afford to contacted their supplier to discuss the issue. While many suppliers now offer access to discretionary credit, the charity says more needs to be done to ensure people are aware of the support that is available.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“It unacceptable that so many vulnerable households are being left without heat and light.
“For some people self-disconnection is easily managed, but for many others it is an extremely stressful experience that can have harmful physical and emotional effects.
“While some suppliers are now offering support to prepayment meter customers, industry and the Government need to do more. We need better mechanisms to identify vulnerable customers, better coordination between suppliers and government agencies and we need suppliers to ensure that when people’s health is at risk alternative ways to pay are offered.”