Scandal of pre-payment meters

Contributed by editor on Feb 02, 2009 - 02:00 AM

Dear Editor,

Kent Green Party wants to see an end to the scandal of pre-payment

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These meters increase the energy bills of the poorest of Kent’s residents and
should be removed from all social housing and private rented accommodation.

We are urging all the Councils in Kent to take action to identify where these
meters are being used, and to get them removed. Why is this happening?

“On 11th December 1990 John Major’s government privatised what once were the
area electricity boards. In the 18 years since then, neither the Conservative or
Labour governments have acted to protect our poorest citizens from the
surcharges applied to pre-payment meters.

Those with the smallest incomes whether they be benefits, pensions or minimum
wage employment often have no choice but to use the pre-payment meter for their
energy needs. It is an outrage that they also are faced with higher prices than
those able to afford billed metering.

Energywatch has found that pre-payment users could be paying up to £567, 42%,
more a year than affluent customers using Internet tariffs.

It is a huge regulatory failure that the successive governments of John Major,
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have not taken action.

The National Housing Federation estimate that over a million people in fuel
poverty would benefit from changes to pre-payment charges. We know change is not
beyond the realm of possibility because within our United Kingdom solutions have
been found: In Northern Ireland pre-pay customers actually receive a 2.5%
discount and can top-up over the phone 24/7.

With, according to National Energy Action, 5.4 million households in fuel
poverty - and about 1,000 people a day being forcibly put onto pre-payment
meters because of debt - this is a growing crisis. Immediate action is needed
now, today.”

Steve Dawe

Kent Green Party