‘Cut right back!’ Woman struggles with prepayment meter energy costs – ‘cry my eyes out’

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The Ofgem energy price cap will increase tomorrow, although Prime Minister Liz Truss has intervened with a price cap “freeze”. Despite this, thousands of people are still grappling with debt and the prospect of not being able to pay their bills.

One consequence of this is being placed onto a prepayment meter, requiring Britons to pay for energy before using it.

The option can be pricey, but under current rules, energy companies can push someone onto a prepayment meter when they do not meet their bills.

It means individuals have to “top up” in advance to keep the lights and heating on.

Citizens Advice estimates more than 450,000 people could be made to pay their bills in this way by the end of 2022, on top of the millions already on the prepayment meter, due to falling into debt. 

READ MORE: Can mortgage offers be withdrawn? Experts explain

Now, Kay is worried about the cost of having a hot shower at home, and is instead using the kettle to wash on a daily basis.

She added: “Living like this is really stressful. There are days when I just sit here and cry my eyes out and think `why am I here?’”

Citizens Advice estimates households which pay-as-they-go could spend £258 more on energy this winter than some paying by direct debit.

It is important to note energy suppliers will not disconnect customers who cannot afford to pay their bills this winter, when they are worried about the person’s safety.

However, the charity warns prepayment meters could put people at risk of disconnecting themselves. 

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Energy companies have a duty to protect customers, but forcibly moving people in debt onto prepayment meters is disconnection by the backdoor. 

“Even with the bill freeze in place, the cost of energy will still be at a record high. 

“If people can’t afford to top up, they’re at real risk of the heating going off and the lights going out.”

The Government has pointed Britons towards the interventions it is taking to make sure people are helped with their bills.

All households with a domestic electricity connection are set to be automatically paid a £400 payment over six months between October 2022 and March 2023 to help with their bills.

Individuals could also get £150 back from the council to help with their council tax and energy bills in the form of a “rebate”.

People will get the rebate if they pay council tax and their home is in bands A to D.

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