Energy suppliers have reportedly agreed to a ban on forcibly installing prepayment meters (PPMs) in the homes of people over 85.
The PA news agency understands that on Tuesday at 7am, energy regulator Ofgem will announce that all suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales have signed up to a code of practice setting out clear procedures which must be followed to protect vulnerable customers.
PPMs have been in the spotlight after some energy suppliers were caught breaking into the homes of people struggling to pay their bills to forcibly install them.
The new rules mean tougher oversight of PPMs which are enforced under warrant installations or remotely switched without consent.
Under the rules suppliers will now have to make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer – and conduct a “site welfare visit” before a PPM is installed, The Guardian has reported.
Suppliers will reportedly make representatives fitting them wear body cameras or audio equipment, and they will not be allowed to fit meters for customers over 85 or anyone with a terminal illness.
The newspaper reported that those forced on to a prepay meter – either by warrant or remotely – will be given £30 of credit initially to reduce the risk of them losing supply.
It is reported that suppliers have also been told to identify where meters were wrongfully installed and to return the customer to their previous tariff and offer compensation.
Forced installations will also be considered a last resort, the code is expected to set out.
The Guardian said Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley will expect suppliers to “treat their most vulnerable customers as they would want their own loved ones to be treated”.
An investigation by The Times revealed how vulnerable customers – including disabled and mentally ill people – were being forced by British Gas on to the pay-as-you-go meters or having their gas switched off.
Firms were temporarily banned from installing prepayment energy meters under warrant.