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Emergency energy measures announced to support vulnerable

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The government and energy industry have agreed a package of measures to ensure the most vulnerable people remain supplied by gas and electricity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prepayment and pay-as-you-go customers will remain supplied with energy through these unprecedented times and customers in financial distress will be supported, the government confirmed.

Those with a prey-payment meter (c. four million) who may not be able to add credit should contact their supplier about the options to keep energy flowing.

This could include nominating a third party for credit top-ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top-up card so that supply isn’t interrupted.

Further, any energy customer in financial distress could also see debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary.

The disconnection of credit meters is now completely suspended. These measures come into effect immediately.

‘Whatever it takes’

Secretary of state for business and energy, Alok Sharma, said: “While friends and family will play a role in helping people impacted by the coronavirus, we recognise there will be many customers who will need additional support and reassurance, particularly those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances.

“The government has committed to do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic. Today those most in need can rest assured that a secure supply of energy will continue to flow into their homes during this difficult time.

“The government and energy industry have agreed to prioritise those existing customers most in need, while identifying customers whose circumstances may have changed as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19.”

Chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “This is an uncertain time for many people. Energy suppliers need to play their part by communicating clearly and supporting their customers as much as possible. Keeping people on supply, making sure they have warm homes and don’t face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential.

“Suppliers will need to put in place support measures for people on prepayment meters, people and families who need to self-isolate or take steps to reduce social contact, and people who may otherwise be in vulnerable situations.”