Scottish Power makes massive change for thousands of customers – and it will help stop more getting into debt | The Sun

SCOTTISH Power has made a huge change that could help thousands of customers struggling with debt.

The supplier has stopped recovering outstanding debt from customers who have recently been moved onto prepayment meters.

Instead, Scottish Power will only charge households for the energy they are using.

If you're in debt and on a prepayment meter, the amount you owe can be deducted when you next top up.

How much of the top up goes towards paying off the debt depends on your energy company – but can be up to 100% in some cases.

The Sun called for a temporary ban on moving customers onto prepayment meters this winter.

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Billpayers who fall into debt with energy providers can be forced on to pay as you go meters.

It means they have to top up for their gas or electricity, rather than being billed for it later on, to avoid building up more debt.

But it can often be a more expensive payment method and can leave customers without gas and electric if they can't afford to add credit.

Citizens Advice estimates that 600,000 people were forced on to a prepayment meter because they could not afford their energy bills in 2022.

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It predicts 160,000 more people could be moved on to a prepayment meter by the end of winter, if no further action is taken.

Scottish Power, which has around 5.3million customers declined to say exactly how many customers will benefit from the move or from when it applies.

We've also asked the firm what will happen to people's debts and will update if we hear back.

Other energy suppliers have paused debt repayments – but only for a fixed period of time.

OVO energy has put in place a payment holiday for debt repayment for all prepayment meter customers until March 31.

Meanwhile, EDF is continuing to pause debt collection for customers who are experiencing financial difficulties.

The supplier says it takes these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Shell Energy also told The Sun it regularly pauses debt recovery, again on a case-by-case basis.

It has done this since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, and says it will continue to do so in the future.

The company has also stopped moving customers to PPM's in December and January.

While Octopus energy says it offers customers personalised help to tackle their debt, including payment holidays.

We've asked British Gas, Utilita and E.ON, if they are pausing debt recovery for prepayment customers and will update when we hear back.

Customers on PPMs pay energy as they use it. Suppliers can install them if customers fail to pay their bill and get into debt.

It's usually a last resort if a customer has not tried to work out a payment plan, or can't be contacted.

A supplier can get a court warrant to enter a home to install one without permission from the billpayer.

Anyone who has a smart meter can be moved on to a pay as you go mode without the supplier having to get a court order or the customer agreeing.

With rising energy bills and the cost of living crisis there are fears more people on prepayment meters will "self-disconnect".

This means they don't top up their meters and are left without gas and electricity.

The Sun spoke to a number of energy customers struggling on prepayment meters and called on the government and Ofgem to do more to support them.

What can you do if you're struggling to pay for your energy?

There are some measures you can take if you're struggling to pay for your energy.

If you fall into debt, you can always approach your supplier to see if they can put you on a repayment plan before putting you on a prepayment meter.

This involves you paying off what you owe in instalments over a set period of time.

If your supplier offers you a repayment plan you don't think you can afford, speak to them again to see if you can negotiate a better deal.

Beyond this, a number of suppliers offer customers grants if they're struggling to pay for energy bills.

A grant is a sum of money you don't have to pay back, so it's essentially free cash.

British Gas, Scottish Power, Ovo Energy, E.On, E.On Next, EDF, Bulb Energy, Octopus Energy and Shell Energy all offer the grants.

For the full list of providers offering grants, you can see our list here.

Plus, you might be able to get help from charities that can help you pay off your debt.

StepChange is one such charity, and you can call them for free advice on 0800 138 1111.

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A list of other includes:

  • Money Helper – 0800 138 7777
  • Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
  • National Debtline – 0808 808 4000

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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