Wigan MP welcomes halt to home-entry energy pre-payment meter applications

A Wigan MP who called for a ban on the forced installation of pre-payment meters has welcomed the senior presiding judge of England and Wales telling magistrates to stop processing applications for them.

Lord Justice Edis told magistrates that applications for warrants of entry to install a pre-payment meter “should, with immediate effect, cease to be listed and no further such applications are to be determined until further notice”.

The move followed Ofgem becoming so concerned at energy firms’ practices around forced pre-payment meter installations that it had asked them all to suspend the activity, the guidance said.

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Makerfield MP Yvonne FovargueMakerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue
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Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, who is chairman of the Consumer Protection All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the Debt and Personal Finance APPGs, supported the move.

She highlighted that Wigan magistrates recently approved nearly 500 disconnection warrants in just four minutes.

Ms Fovargue said: “Last month, I called on the energy minister to end the forced installation of pre-payment meters. Magistrates’ courts, it had emerged, were authorising thousands of disconnection warrants a day, without the magistrates even knowing the names and addresses of those people, let alone their personal circumstances or vulnerabilities.

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“These often vulnerable customers were being forced into a situation where they had to pay the highest rates for their energy use, while at the same time placing themselves at an increased risk of self-disconnection when they couldn’t pay.

“Just a few days ago, the industry regulator Ofgem asked all energy companies to suspend forcible installations. And now we have Lord Justice Edis, who is the judge who oversees the workings of all our courts, calling for a halt to the issuing of warrants of entry for the purpose of installing a pre-payment meter, in light of the growing concern.

“This is clearly a common-sense approach and one which recognises the vulnerability of many of our constituents, especially in the present cost-of-living crisis. It’s just a shame that ministers didn’t step in earlier. “