Business Secretary warns energy suppliers over direct debit hikes

Grant Shapps has urged companies to ensure that their billing processes don’t overcharge customers

Energy suppliers have been warned not to hike direct debit payments as the cost of living crisis bites.

In a letter to suppliers, the Business Secretary said he was concerned about reports that energy bills were rising despite households’ efforts to cut their energy usage.

Mr Shapps said: “It is critical that consumers are able to manage their bills effectively and direct debit can be an efficient way for families to smooth their energy costs over the year.

“However, I was disturbed to read media reports that some consumers are saying their direct debits are going up when they are making huge efforts to reduce their usage to save money at a time when household incomes are squeezed.”

In July, Ofgem published a report after a review that found that five large energy companies had “moderate or severe” weaknesses in charging customers’ direct debits.

Grant Shapps added: “With other costs increasing for households, it is critical that we do what we can to help. I am interested to understand how you intend to ensure that your direct debit system does not over-estimate charging.

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