Grant Shapps is urging Ofgem to crack down on utilities in the wake of the prepaid meter scandal
Ofgem has been ordered by the Business Secretary to tighten its supplier regulation amid outcry over the prepaid meter scandal.
Grant Shapps accused the energy regulator of being “under scrutiny” by taking what energy company bosses told them at face value and not listening to customers.
He said he was giving companies until Tuesday to report on what action they would be taking – including compensation – regarding customers who may have wrongfully installed prepaid meters in their homes.
It follows an investigation by The Times which revealed how vulnerable customers – including disabled and mentally ill people – have been forced by British Gas to go to PAYG meters or turn off their petrol.
An undercover reporter for the newspaper worked for collection agency Arvato Financial Solutions and followed agents who, with court orders, entered customers’ homes to forcibly install meters.
Business Secretary Grant Shapps has given energy companies until Tuesday to explain how they will make up for customers who wrongly installed prepaid meters
Energy companies can obtain court orders giving them the legal right to enter people’s homes and install prepaid meters when customers have not paid their bills (stock image)
In a statement, Mr Shapps said: “I am appalled that vulnerable customers struggling with their energy bills have invaded their homes and installed pre-payment meters, despite a clear obligation on suppliers to support them.
“They need to refocus their efforts on their consumers, the British public, who are at the bottom of this despicable behaviour.
“I’m also concerned that regulators are too easily ripped off by taking what energy companies tell them at face value.
“You also need to listen to customers to make sure this treatment of vulnerable consumers doesn’t happen again.”
In response, Ofgem said it shared Mr Shapps’ “shock” at the findings of The Times investigation and had ordered British Gas to halt all warrant activity until it could demonstrate compliance with its standards and requirements.
“Our compliance reviews have been launched to assess and drive standards across the industry,” it said.
“Companies are required by law to provide an honest statement of facts and we required reviews to be signed off by their boards.
“It is an extremely serious matter for any licensee to provide misleading or intentionally inaccurate information as part of these reviews.
“It is clear, as the Secretary of State has pointed out, that the picture presented by companies may not accurately reflect the experience of customers on the ground.
‘As such, further reviews will cross-check what we have reported with direct reports from customers and broader stakeholders and potentially those involved in service delivery.’
Earlier this week, Ofgem ordered all domestic energy companies to suspend the system of compulsory installation of prepayment meters.
Businesses can move customers who are behind on their energy bills to the more expensive prepaid meters, but the rules aim to ensure vulnerable customers are not forcibly moved.
For Labour, shadow economy secretary Ed Miliband accused Mr Shapps of repeatedly failing to tackle the problem of prepayment meters.
“Grant Shapps is the idle Business Secretary sitting on his hands in the face of the scandal surrounding the forced installation of prepayment meters while waving through energy companies making record profits at the expense of the British people,” he said.
“Now, even after the British Gas scandal and the millions who have been disconnected from the grid through the back door, he still will not heed Labor’s call for a full and prolonged ban on forced installation of prepayment meters until there is comprehensive reform of a discredited one , lazy corporate there and callous system.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/celebrity/grant-shapps-tells-ofgem-to-toughen-up-on-energy-suppliers-in-the-wake-of-prepayment-meter-scandal/ Grant Shapps is urging Ofgem to crack down on utilities in the wake of the prepaid meter scandal