From 8 November 2023, energy suppliers must follow new stricter rules before a prepayment meter can be involuntarily installed in a household.

Earlier this year we became very concerned about how energy suppliers were getting debt owed to them by trying to install prepayment meters in households without one.

We asked energy suppliers to stop installing prepayment meters in households without their consent and set out rules in our voluntary Code of Practice.  All energy suppliers signed up to the Code, which remains in place until the new rules come into effect.

During the summer we asked for views about moving the rules set out in our voluntary Code of Practice into energy suppliers’ licences. We have gathered all views about this change, and the requirements set out in the Code will now be made mandatory. This means that these new stricter rules will become part of each energy suppliers’ licence. Energy suppliers must follow these rules, if not we will take appropriate enforcement action, which could involve substantial fines.

Currently no energy suppliers are carrying out prepayment meter installations without the consent of the household. They will not be able to do so until they have shown that they meet the strict criteria we have set. The new rules will start from 8 November 2023. They will make sure that when energy suppliers do start involuntary installations they will act in a fair and responsible way and will only use them as a last resort.

Rules that energy suppliers must follow

Before a prepayment meter can be involuntarily installed, energy suppliers must:

  • make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer before a prepayment meter is installed
  • carry out a site welfare visit before a prepayment meter is installed
  • refrain from all involuntary installations for the highest risk customers including:
    • households which require a continuous supply for health reasons, including dependence on powered medical equipment
    • households where all occupants are aged 75 years and over (if there is no other support in the house)
    • households with children aged under 2 years old
    • households with residents with severe health issues including terminal illnesses or those with a medical dependency on a warm home (for example due to illness such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, sickle cell disease)
    • where there is no one within the household that has the ability to top up the meter due to physical or mental incapacity
  • audio or body cameras must be worn by the lead supplier representative present on all warrant installations or site welfare visits to check for vulnerabilities ahead of an involuntary installation or remote mode switch. All audio and footage will be available for audit
  • give a £30 credit per meter (or equivalent non-disconnection period) on all warrant installations and remote switches as a short-term credit/measure to remove the risk of customers going off supply at the point of PPM meter installation
  • re-assess the case once a customer has repaid debts owed. Suppliers must contact the customer to offer assessment of whether a prepayment meter remains the most suitable and preferred payment method of choice for consumers; if any prepayment meter customer is clear of debt and wishes to move off their prepayment meter (understanding any changes in the tariff they will pay), the supplier must agree where the customer passes any required credit checks

Support if you have a prepayment meter or you’re moving over to one

Read our guidance about how to read, top-up or switch your tariff or prepayment meter on our prepayment meters explained page.