A new code of practice aimed at helping householders struggling with their energy bills has been launched in Ireland.
Under the Energy Engage Code, power providers can no longer cut off energy supplies to households that are willing to work with them.
Suppliers must identify vulnerable customers at an earlier stage and treat each customer individually, with “realistic and achievable payment plans” offered to anyone in difficulty. Most people who are not up to date on their bills will be given a pay-as-you-go meter.
The new rules have been voluntarily adopted by the five main energy suppliers and will come into effect next month.
Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte said: “This code of practice creates new mechanisms to help customers having difficulty with their energy bills and gives a very simple, clear commitment from energy suppliers to consumers – if you engage with your supplier your energy supply will not be cut off.
“The disconnection of a customer should be an absolute last resort.”
Thousands of homes in Ireland are said to have had their energy disconnected last year.