Watchdog launches pre-pay meter probe
Industry watchdog Ofgem has launched a new investigation into energy firms' use of expensive pre-pay meters.
A Freedom of Information request from BBC Radio 5 Live revealed that there had been a recent surge in the number of pre-pay meters forcibly installed in UK homes, with 97,000 fitted in England, Wales and Scotland under warrant last year alone.
"Installing pre-payment meters under warrant should be used as a last resort by energy suppliers when consumers get into debt," an Ofgem spokesman said. "Suppliers can only install a prepayment meter where it is safe and reasonably practical for the consumer to use."
According to an investigation carried out by campaigning consumer charity Which?, energy consumers on pre-payment meters can pay as much as £180 more for the same tariff every year.
Ofgem estimates that one in every six customers in the UK pays for energy via a pre-payment meter.