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Nearly a third of prepayment energy vouchers unredeemed

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Only 71% of £400 prepayment energy vouchers have been used by households – and the Government is blaming energy suppliers.

The government has published figures showing how many vouchers have been used across energy suppliers and it has highlighted which energy firms need to do more to deliver the government energy bill support to prepayment meter customers.

It’s the first time the government has released voucher redemption rates for the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) broken down by supplier. 

The best and worst suppliers

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 71% of prepayment energy vouchers have been used, meaning 29% have not been redeemed.

Customers with E Gas and Electricity are most likely to redeem their vouchers – it has an 85% redemption rate, while Bulb is in second place with 79%. 

Those with the fewest redemptions include Good Energy, Utilita and Scottish Power.

The government is calling on these suppliers – and others – to make sure they are doing all they can to ensure their customers with prepayment meters know what to look out for and exactly how to redeem their vouchers.

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The public have a right to know which suppliers are leading the charge with getting this help to them, and that’s why I’m holding energy companies to account to make sure they are doing everything they can to support their customers at this time.

“We’re ramping up efforts so consumers know exactly what they need to do to redeem these vouchers, but we need suppliers to do much more and I want to see these numbers rise.”

How does the EBSS work?

The EBSS gives each household in the UK £400 off their energy bills this winter. The cash is from the government but it’s administered by energy suppliers.

Post-pay and direct debit customers get the money via a credit to their energy bill or a cash transfer into their bank account.

But prepayment energy customers with traditional (non-smart) meters are sent monthly vouchers by their supplier via text, email or post. These vouchers have to be redeemed when customers top-up their meter.

Suppliers should tell customers where to redeem vouchers, which will be at a Post Office branch or a PayPoint shop, and must make several attempts to contact customers who have not redeemed their vouchers.

Crackdown on rogue suppliers

Shapps has also warned energy suppliers to end their ‘mistreatment of customers’.

He has written to energy suppliers calling on them to stop the “harmful and anxiety-inducing practice” of forcibly moving consumers over to prepayment meters without taking every step to support consumers in difficulty.

The business secretary is asking suppliers to voluntarily commit to stopping this practice by demanding they share the number of warrants they’ve applied for in recent months.

Courts are being overwhelmed with applications for warrants as they continue to mount, with reports that huge batches are being approved in a matter of minutes.