British Gas, Scottish Power and Ovo make up 70% of forced meter installations
Just three energy companies were responsible for 70 per cent of prepayment meters forcibly installed in homes last year, according to new figures.
Data provided to the Government by suppliers reveal that an estimated 94,201 gas and electricity meters were installed using court warrants in 2022 - an average of 7,850 a month.
British Gas, Scottish Power and Ovo Energy fitted 66,187 meters - 70 per cent of the total, according to the figures.
Grant Shapps, the Energy Security Secretary, said the statistics"gave a clear and horrifying picture of just how widespread the forced installation of prepayment meters had become".
He added: “Prepayment meters are right for some people, so I do not want to ban them outright, but I do have concerns that companies have not been treating their customers fairly, over an already difficult winter during which the Government has tried to help families by paying around half the energy bill of the average household.
“After my calls for change, I’m pleased that suppliers have made their actions public and agreed to put a stop to forcing prepayment on to vulnerable customers for good – but this cannot happen again.
“I will be watching (industry regulator) Ofgem’s ongoing review closely so customers get the support they need – and those vulnerable consumers who have wrongly suffered forced installations get the justice they deserve in the form of redress.”
Prepayment meters have been in the spotlight after some energy suppliers were caught breaking into the homes of people struggling to pay their bills to forcibly install them.
An investigation by The Times revealed how vulnerable customers – including disabled and mentally ill people – were being forced by British Gas on to the pay-as-you-go meters or having their gas switched off.
Firms were subsequently banned from installing prepayment energy meters under warrant, but that moratorium is due to expire at the end of March.
Alongside the Government’s crackdown on unacceptable behaviour from suppliers, Lord Justice Edis issued directions for magistrates’ courts to stop all warrants that allow companies to force-fit the meters.
Ofgem is reviewing the use of prepayment meters and companies have been instructed to investigate and offer redress such as compensation to customers where the meters were wrongly installed and regulations not followed.
Last week, the regulator extended the ban on forced installations of prepaymentmeters until a new code of practice is agreed by energy companies.
British Gas, Scottish Power and Ovo Energy have been contacted for comment.