Scottish Power's prepayment meter policy 'obscene' as parent company reports €3.4 billion profits

A photo showing Scottish Power's office building in Glasgow.
October 26, 2023
Charities have spoken out against Scottish Power's move to resume forcibly installing pre-payment meters.

Scottish Power’s drive to force Prepayment Meters (PPMs) on customers has been labelled obscene by charities as its Madrid-based parent company Iberdrola posted profits of 3.4 billion Euros for the first nine months of 2023 today (Thursday, October 26).

The supplier, which has previously been slammed by the Government for its enforcement of Prepayment Meters (PPMs) in the UK, was last week granted 124 warrants for forcible PPMs in a move that has been condemned by Warm This Winter, a coalition of 40 UK charities.

Warm This Winter spokesperson Fiona Waters said:

“It’s appalling that Scottish Power have been granted warrants to force their way into over a hundred homes, install prepayment meters and leave vulnerable people with just £30 credit, when its parent company is making over three billion Euros in profits. It is frankly obscene that Scottish Power is deliberately going after people who are struggling with unaffordable energy bills through no fault of their own."

In March this year, Scottish Power were named and shamed by Ministers as the worst culprit for forcibly installing PPMs (based on the number of gas and electricity customers they serve). The company force fitted over 24,300 prepayment in their customers’ homes in 2022. Just three providers – Scottish Power, British Gas and OVO Energy made up 70% of all forced installations. [1]

A huge outcry from the media, politicians and charities, including Warm This Winter campaign members, brought about a ban of forced PPMs. However, last week Scottish Power sought and was granted the warrants.

Jonathan Bean at Fuel Poverty Action commented:

“We are horrified that Ofgem will allow Scottish Power and others to break into the homes of struggling families again this winter.  Whilst people freeze because they cannot feed their meters, the executives and shareholders continue to enjoy big salaries and profits.”

As well as a total of  94,201 PPMs being forcibly installed in some of the UK’s poorest homes last year, over 350,000 smart meters have been switched to PPM mode in the past six years, forcing customers to pay more for their energy.

Pay-as-you-go customers spent around £250 more last winter than someone paying by direct debit and did not have the option to spread the cost across the year. When someone can’t afford to top up the meter everything clicks off, regardless of whether they are old, ill, or have a newborn baby. The vast majority of people on smart prepayment meters are vulnerable, with over half having health conditions or disabilities.

Ofgem responded to calls to halt this with a temporary ban before introducing a mandatory code of practice protecting some of the most vulnerable households (mainly those aged over 75 and families with children aged under two).

Warm This Winter are now calling on the Government to extend this to ALL households so that nobody can be forced to spend winter without heat or power.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“It is totally inappropriate for energy firms to be seeking to force their way into people’s homes to push them onto dangerous prepayment meters in this way. This strategy leaves potentially vulnerable customers at risk of disconnection and going without energy.

“Instead, we need Government and industry to agree to a Help To Repay scheme which will help bring down the astronomical levels of energy debt and help households struggling with the cost of living crisis to get back on an even keel.”

Warm This Winter is a coalition of over 40 of the UK's leading charities and is  demanding that the government acts now to help people struggling with energy bills this winter, and to ensure we all have access to affordable energy in the future. For a full list of supporters click here.


[1] When accounting for the number of gas and electricity customers they serve, Scottish Power had the highest number of installations per customer basis in 2022 (over 500 installations per 100,000 meter points):