Stop your energy supplier moving you to prepayment
Your gas or electricity supplier might tell you they’re going to move you to prepayment if you owe them money.
When you can refuse to be moved to prepayment
Your supplier can’t make you move to prepayment if it wouldn’t be safe or practical. This means you can refuse to move to prepayment if an illness or disability means you’d be harmed if your gas or electricity was cut off. You can also refuse if you wouldn't be able to get to or use your meter.
Your supplier also has to follow rules set by Ofgem, the energy regulator. These rules mean your supplier can’t make you move to prepayment if:
- you don’t agree that you owe them money, and you’ve told them this - for example if the debt came from a previous tenant
they haven’t offered you other ways to repay money you owe - for example a repayment plan or payments through your benefits
they come to your home to install a prepayment meter without giving you notice - at least 7 days for gas and 7 working days for electricity
they haven’t given you at least 28 days to repay your debt before writing to you to say they want to move you to prepayment
Tell your supplier if any of these apply. If they still want to move you to prepayment, you should complain to get them to change their mind.
If you’re disabled or ill
Your supplier can’t make you move to prepayment if you:
- are disabled in a way that makes it hard to get to, read or use the meter
- have a mental health condition that makes it hard to get to, read or use the meter
- have an illness that affects your breathing, such as asthma
- have an illness that’s made worse by the cold, such as arthritis
- use medical equipment that needs electricity - for example a stairlift or dialysis machine
You should also ask to be put on your supplier’s priority services register - you could get extra help with your energy supply.
If you wouldn’t be able to get to your meter or top it up
Your supplier can’t make you move to prepayment if it would be too hard for you to top up your meter. Tell your supplier if:
your current meter is hard to reach - for example if it's above head height
you can’t always get to your current meter - for example if it’s in a shared cupboard you don’t have a key for
it would be hard to get to a shop where you could top up your meter - for example if you don’t have a car and the nearest shop is over 2 miles away
There might be ways around problems like these. For example, your supplier might move your meter or let you top up online.
You should complain to your supplier if they can't solve one of these problems but still want to make you move to prepayment. If your complaint succeeds they won’t make you move to prepayment.
You could pay more if you refuse without a reason
If none of the reasons on this page apply to you, your supplier is allowed to make you move to prepayment. If you don't agree to this, they can get a warrant to enter your home and install an old-style prepayment meter or change your smart meter to the prepayment setting - this could cost up to £150. They’ll add the cost of the warrant to the money you owe them.
If your supplier is going to install an old-style prepayment meter, find out what to expect.Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help or advice about stopping your supplier from making you move to prepayment.
If you’re in debt, you might be able to get financial help with paying for your energy.
You can also get help with debt.