Europe

Prepayment meter bonanza as millions to benefit from major change

Graham Stuart refuses to rule out energy rationing this winter

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Millions of people with prepayment meters are set to benefit from new top-up limits. It comes as 4.5 million prepay customers start receiving an energy rebate worth £400.

People on the older, traditional prepayment meters will be unable to directly receive the discount. They will get vouchers instead.

Customers on new smart prepayment meters will have the discount automatically applied.

Divided into six payments, the energy bills rebate will see energy customers receive a discount worth £66 this month and in November.

A discount of £67 will then be applied monthly between December and March.

Most gas and electricity top-up key cards have a £49 limit per transaction, meaning households would have had to redeem the vouchers over a number of transactions with some potentially missing out.

However, the gas and electricity key top-up limits have now been raised from £49 to £99.

A spokesperson for the Post Office and Payzone, which provide the facilities for prepayment customers to top up legacy meters, confirmed they have increased the maximum transaction on electricity keys and gas cards from £49 to £99.

British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Bulb and Good Energy customers can redeem their energy bill rebate vouchers at their local Post Office and PayZone counters.

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Other energy suppliers are issuing the rebate to their customers via PayPoint.

A spokesperson said their top-up limits have been also increased to £99 so vouchers can be credited in one transaction.

A Utilita spokesperson told The Sun: “We welcome the increase in the maximum top-up limit introduced by the Post Office, Payzone and PayPoint.

“It is better for the customer as they would have needed to receive and redeem two vouchers in order to receive the full EBSS payment.

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“This could have caused customers additional effort or issues with vouchers being lost in the post. The top-up increase means one voucher only.”

A spokesperson for EDF said: “This decision is in view of the increasing costs of energy and the volume of energy vouchers being redeemed.

“Customers will see shorter transaction times, with the majority of top ups being catered for in one single transaction.”

Smart prepayment meter customers do not need to take any action.

Energy suppliers will apply the £400 discount onto their smart meters automatically.

A £300 one-off Pensioner Cost of Living Payment will be paid out to eight million households next month. It will be provided to people who already get the winter fuel payment.

Vulnerable households across the UK will receive a £324 cost-of-living cash payment from November 8.

The Government says it is planning to make all payments by November 23.

Meanwhile, Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said today the Government is planning for blackouts, but such a scenario is extremely unlikely.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator, which oversees Britain’s electricity grid, has said households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure the grid does not collapse. It described this as an unlikely scenario and it would emerge if power plants cannot get enough gas to keep running.

Mr Zahawi told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News: “We’ve got the second largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) processing infrastructure in Europe. Half of our gas we produce here at home, we want to go further – this year we’ve increased our output by 26% on gas. We’ve got interconnectors with our neighbours.

“Now, what the National Grid is saying is the extremely unlikely scenario where there are issues in Europe with the interconnectors and a very cold snap, so it’s extremely unlikely. But it’s only right that we plan for every scenario.”

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