The government has moved to provide essential assurances to prepayment energy customers, during a time of social distancing and self-isolation.
As prepayment customers must top up their energy through a card or key, it is clear that this may not be easy or even possible for some. In order to address this, an industry agreement has been signed by all UK suppliers, and comes into force immediately. We'll tell you a little more about the measures and details of this agreement.
Emergency measures for 4 million customers
From 19th March 2020, customers who cannot top up their supply will be able to speak to their supplier, stay connected and go through a range of options. 4 million customers get their energy this way, so it's an important step that's in place to safeguard those who are staying inside and self-isolating.
Top-up and payment assistance
According to the government press release, options could include nominating someone to top up a card, or having funds added to a customer's credit. Another option could be to send a pre-loaded top-up card in the post.
So it's clear that ways to keep the supply topped up will be available, and it's important to get in touch with whoever your supplier is to discuss options that suit your particular circumstances.
Energy supplier support
The press release adds that any energy customers in financial distress will be supported. This could include reassessing, reducing or pausing debt repayments or active bill payments.
No credit meter disconnections
An absolutely integral measure is the complete suspension of credit meter disconnections. Your meter will not be cut off as a result of non-payment, but be sure to contact your supplier to let them know your current situation - they are ready to help.
Secretary of State for Business and Energy, Alok Sharma, offered further reassurance:
"The government has committed to do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of this coronavirus pandemic. Today those most in need can rest assured that a secure supply of energy will continue to flow into their homes during this difficult time."
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Dame Gillian Guy, said:
"This is an uncertain time for many people. Energy suppliers need to play their part by communicating clearly and supporting their customers as much as possible. Keeping people on supply, making sure they have warm homes and don't face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential."
Ofgem has recommended that prepayment customers leave their meter box unlocked, so that it can be accessed by someone else doing the top-up for them.
Those with a smart meter should be able to top up remotely, via online, phone or mobile app.
Contact your supplier
Once again, if you and your energy supply are, or will be, affected by COVID-19, then contact your supplier. The measures in place are effective immediately, and we've added supplier contact numbers below.
If you can't see a contact number for your supplier then you should be able to find one on your latest bill, or by looking online and simply searching for your supplier's name and 'contact number'.
Calls to 0800 and 0808 are free, but remember that calls to 0844, 0845, 0870 and 0871 cost more. Use our free alternative if your usual number is chargeable.
Calls to 03 numbers are the same as calls to 01 and 02, meaning they are included in landline and mobile inclusive minutes. 03 numbers are commonly used now, so look out for those where possible.
Our supplier contact list
Avro - 0330 058 2005
Bristol Energy - 0808 281 2222
British Gas - 0333 202 9802
Bulb - 0300 30 30 635
E.ON - 0333 202 4610
EDF - 0333 200 5100
ENSTROGA - 01158 572 572
ESB - 0345 60 70 372
GOTO - 0800 056 4843
Green Energy UK - 01920 486 156
Green Network Energy - 0800 520 0202
Igloo - 0333 405 5555
Npower - 0800 073 3000
Octopus - 0330 808 1080
Orbit - 0333 103 8657
OVO - 0330 303 5063
PFP - 01772 897 355
Powershop - 0808 273 8570
Scottish Power - 0800 027 0072
Shell Energy - 0330 094 5800
Simplicity - 0800 368 9225
SSE - 0345 026 2658
Together Energy - 0333 150 1699
Tonik - 0333 344 2686
Zebra - 0161 498 8100