Energywatch and CAB roll out joint campaign targeting utilities

Industry watchdog Energywatch is teaming up with the Citizens Advice Bureau to expose the failure of energy companies to implement their own price rises, saying it creates misery for more than 1 million British households.

In their new initiative they claim that some households find their electricity bills more than doubling after price rises are back-dated.

The problem occurs with the 1 million pre-payment electricity meters in Britain. These antiquated "token meters" are often preferred by low- and fixed-income households to help control their expenditure. However they have to be manually reset by the energy companies after every price rise.

Energywatch says that because most companies are slow to reset meters, consumers can be faced with large bills once backdated price rises have been added, forcing them into debt. One consumer recently faced a bill of £853 as their meter had not been reset since 2003.

Energywatch and Citizens Advice Bureau are calling for companies to stop backdating price rises when they reset customers meters. The organisations also want industry regulator Ofgem to set a time limit for resetting meters after a price rise.

Energywatch director of campaigns Adam Scorer says: "The failure of some companies to update their token meters with price rises is having a serious impact on some of the poorest households.

"Scottish & Southern Energy and EDF Energy are leading the way and don’t back-date price rises when they reset meters. Their competitors; British Gas, Scottish Power, npower and Powergen should all follow suit and stop creating debt for customers who can ill afford to pay current high prices never mind pay off debts that they never knew they had."

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