Shapps “horrified” by findings of investigation over British Gas forced prepay meters

Britain’s largest energy supplier has reportedly been sending debt collectors to vulnerable customers to install prepayment meters to recover debt

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Debt collectors have reportedly broken into several homes of vulnerable customers to install prepayment meters.

That’s according to an investigation by The Times, which shows that Arvato Financial Solutions, a company used by British Gas to collect debts, had broken into homes to fit equipment.

The report suggests that young people and people with disabilities lived in these homes.

In response to the allegations, Business Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in a tweet: “I am horrified by the findings of this investigation.”

Mr Shapps said he asked Energy Minister Graham Stuart to hold an urgent meeting with the company in the coming days.

The boss of British Gas owner Centrica told the BBC earlier today he was horrified that these incidents had taken place.

Chris O’Shea said: “This happened when people were acting on behalf of British Gas. There is nothing that can be said to excuse it.”

An Ofgem spokesperson told ELN: “These are extremely serious allegations from The Times. We are launching an urgent investigation into British Gas and we won’t hesitate to take firm enforcement action.

“It is unacceptable for any supplier to impose forced installations on vulnerable customers struggling to pay their bills before all other options have exhausted and without carrying out thorough checks to ensure it is safe and practicable to do so.”

Gillian Cooper, Head of Energy Policy at Citizens Advice, said: “It’s truly shocking to see the extent of bad practices amongst some energy suppliers.

“Our frontline advisers know only too well the desperate situations so many struggling customers have found themselves in. Time and time again we have called for a ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections for customers are brought in.

Ofgem and the government need to act now – serious reforms must be made before these suppliers can be trusted again.”

ELN has approached BEIS and Arvato Financial Solutions for comment.

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