Citizens Advice reveals shocking number of households cut off from energy supply

One person every 10 seconds is being left in the cold and dark

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(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

Shocking research from Citizens Advice reveals that millions of people nationwide on prepayment meters were cut off as many struggled to pay their utility bills. The charity is now calling for a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections are brought in. 

Amidst the cost of living crisis, many are searching for ways to cut costs and save energy at home. One of the best ways to monitor energy usage is through a smart meter or prepayment meter. However, Citizens Advice found that 3.2 million people across Great Britain ran out of credit on their prepayment meter in 2022 – that's one person every 10 seconds.

White cast iron radiator underneath windowsill

(Image credit: Future PLC)

With payments rising and more and more people seeking energy bill help, many have been put on a prepayment meter in the hopes to keep their numbers down – but there's a stark untold reality for those who have no choice but to do so.

With many struggling to keep the lights and central heating on as it is, the charity reveals that these cut-offs are not just a one-off. More than two million people nationwide are being disconnected at least once a month, with a reported more than one in five prepayment meter households cut off in the past year who spent at least 24 hours without gas or electricity.

radiator in white room with plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

In 2022, Citizens Advice saw more people unable to top up their prepayment meter than in the whole of the last 10 years combined. Following this rising trend, the charity raised concerns to energy regulator, Ofgem, and the government after receiving evidence of energy suppliers forcing households with vulnerable members onto prepayment meters.

'All too often the people finding it hardest to pay their bills are being forced onto a prepayment meter they can’t afford to top up. This puts them at real risk of being left in cold, damp and dark homes,' explains Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

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(Image credit: Future PLC)

The charity is now calling for a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations to ensure vulnerable members of households are protected until the introduction of new measures.

Dame Clare Moriarty at Citizens Advice adds, 'If Ofgem doesn't act, the government must intervene.'

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.