Business Secretary Grant Shapps has hit out at Ofgem for listening to power firm bosses over clients, following the forceful set up of prepayment meters.
Mr Shapps accused the power regulator of getting “the wool pulled over their eyes” and advised it to toughen up on suppliers after “vulnerable” clients battling their power payments had pay-as-you go fuel and electrical energy meters wrongfully put in of their properties.
It follows an investigation by the Times, which confirmed that an organization utilized by British Gas to pursue money owed, Arvato Financial Solutions, was forcing its manner into properties to suit the units, regardless of indicators that youngsters and disabled folks have been dwelling there.
A whistleblower additionally advised Sky News that British Gas employees have been below stress to acquire extra debt and match extra meters.
Mr Shapps stated he was “appalled” by the “abhorrent behaviour” of power firms and advised them to “refocus their efforts on their consumers”.
“I’m also concerned the regulator is too easily having the wool pulled over their eyes by taking at face value what energy companies are telling them,” he stated.
“They need to also listen to customers to make sure this treatment of vulnerable consumers doesn’t happen again.”
In response, Ofgem stated it shared Mr Shapps’ “shock” on the findings of the investigation.
It has positioned British Gas below overview and on Friday requested all different home power firms to droop the pressured set up of prepayment meters and overview their processes for coping with clients who’ve fallen into arrears.
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“What is clear, as the secretary has laid out, is that the picture presented by companies may not accurately reflect what is experienced by customers on the ground,” Ofgem stated in a press release.
“Therefore, further reviews will cross examine what we have had reported to us with direct reports from customers and wider stakeholders, and potentially those involved in delivery of services.”
Shadow enterprise secretary Ed Miliband accused Mr Shapps of being a “do-nothing business secretary” who has “sat on his hands in the face of the scandal” after repeatedly failing to take motion over the problem.
He referred to as on Mr Shapps to undertake Labour’s name for a “total and ongoing ban on the forced installation of prepayment meters until there is wholesale reform of a discredited, rotten and callous system”.
Currently firms can transfer clients who’re behind on their power payments onto the costlier prepayment meters, however guidelines are supposed to make sure weak clients usually are not forcibly moved.