Following reports of pre-payment meter customers not redeeming the £400 credit from the UK Government as part of its Energy Bills Support Scheme, Changeworks is calling on the Government to do more to make sure these vulnerable consumers are not left behind.
Changeworks supports tens of thousands of people every year who need support with their energy bills. We know that those on prepayment meters are often the most vulnerable, and we’ve heard of multiple issues that could mean the vouchers go unclaimed.
Janice from South East Scotland got in touch with Changeworks after a technical problem with her voucher being redeemed left her at risk of having no power at all.
She’s disabled and suffers from anxiety, and an issue redeeming the voucher in a shop meant she had to make three trips back and forth to different stores to try and get credit on her meter. She had been running low on credit when she decided to apply the voucher, so was left with a stressful wait to get money on her meter.
It took several days, as well as the support of Changeworks and Janice’s friends, before the credit was properly applied.
Janice said: “I received the voucher in the post and I just wanted peace of mind to know my meter would be credited and my power would be on for the night. But an error at the PayPoint store meant the voucher didn’t work meaning I was at risk of my power being cut off.”
“It was really stressful that the shop didn’t know how to do it and I felt helpless and confused at having to make lots of trips which are difficult for me with my disability.”
Changeworks has also seen examples of how the vouchers are being sent to customers. Some are arriving in non-descript white envelopes with no identifying logo from the supplier which could mean they are easily missed.
Ewan Fraser, Principal Advisor at Changeworks, called on the Government to take ownership of the situation. “It’s clear from what we’re hearing from the people we support that there are problems with the Energy Bills Support Scheme vouchers. Those on pre-payment meters are far more likely to be in or at risk of fuel poverty, so most acutely require this support.”
“Of course the support itself is welcome and vital – but the Government should be taking an active role in making sure vulnerable people don’t miss out.
“The Government should work with PayPoint to eliminate these technical issues, and work with suppliers to increase awareness and visibility of how the vouchers are being distributed.”
For more information on the Energy Bills Support Scheme, including details of how you will receive your payments, visit our in-depth guide. For more information on how to tackle the rising cost of energy, check out our comprehensive energy advice.
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