UNISON and Fuel Poverty Action are demanding equality for people who pay for their energy through prepayment meters and get an unfair deal compared to those paying by direct debit.
The call comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision to cap the difference in tariff between prepayment meters and direct debit.
“This proposal is not acceptable,” general secretary Dave Prentis declared today.
“There are over four million households on prepayment meters, many of them vulnerable, who will face higher bills than other energy customers.
“Prepayment meter users are usually customers on low income and financially worse off. They may have low or no qualifications, or have a disability, and live in social housing.
“UNISON agrees with the Fuel Poverty Action campaign that this proposal by the CMA is regressive, unjust, and dangerous to the health of people who have the least resources yet are expected to pay the highest prices for their energy.”
A report from the authority in spring found that the cheapest tariffs for prepayment meter users are £260-£320 a year more expensive than for direct debit customers.
This averaged out at £300 a year more for a prepayment customer – but the CMA’s proposed cap will only reduce energy costs by £75 a year.
“Thousands die each winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes,” added Mr Prentis.
“There are rules preventing disconnection of power to vulnerable customers, but people on prepayment meters are routinely left in the dark and cold. You are disconnected when the money runs out.”
If you think it is unjust for the worst-off customers to pay the highest price for their energy, then please Sign and share the petition for energy equality.
UNISON members experiencing financial and emotional difficulties can contact the union’s welfare charity, There for You, which provides confidential advice and support service for members and their dependents.
If you are affected by prepayment meters and their tariffs, have been threatened with having one installed against your will or would like to speak out in the media, in person or anonymously, email firstname.lastname@example.org.