Prepayment meters (PPMs) can help energy customers with their debt management, but they must not be used to “penalise” low-income households, it has been argued.
Christine Quigley, a communications and campaigns officer for Transact, said that PPMs can be “extremely useful” in helping people to budget.
“They are valued especially by people on low incomes who are keen to avoid debt,” she remarked.
However, energy providers should aim to spread the administrative costs of overseeing the meters across tariffs, rather than charging the poorer households that have them installed, she added.
Ms Quigley noted that energy costs are significant for consumers as “heating your home and cooking for your family is a necessity”.
A customer that uses PPMs for both gas and electricity pays an average of £215 more for fuel bills than people using direct debits, Transact has found.
Single parents, the disabled and those living in social housing are up to three times more likely to use the meters, it discovered.
By Jamie Price