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Chart of the Week

2020

COVID-19 research findings published ahead of strengthened consumer protections

Emma Bill Analyst

This 'Chart of the week' comes from Ofgem’s latest research on the impacts of COVID-19 measures on energy consumption and customer’s financial wellbeing. Published on 6 November, the findings presented come from the third wave of this research, with fieldwork being conducted in April, May, and October. While those reporting as being concerned about paying for their energy held steady between May and October 2020, there has been an increase in concerns about topping up prepayment meters (PPMs). The research indicates that: 30% of PPM customers are worried they may not be able to top up their meter because they cannot leave home. 27% worry they may not be able to top up because their top-up shop is closed. Additionally, most recent research suggests that more consumers with PPMs are experiencing issues when topping up meters than in May. Figure 1 shows increases in the number of PPM customers having drawn on emergency credit (35% vs. 22% in May). In October 12% ran out of credit and were temporarily disconnected, up from 5% in May. Similarly, more PPM customers reported that they were unable to top up as they could not afford to (17% vs. 11% in May). Last month, Ofgem announced plans to implement more robust measures to protect customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills this winter. A new Standard Licence Condition 27A will require suppliers to identify all domestic customers on a PPM who are self-disconnecting, and to offer emergency credit to all PPM customers to ensure continuity of supply for those ...

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