National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland have a long-standing interest in improving poor outcomes for prepayment customers who need to pay for their energy before they use it – usually by adding money to a ‘key’ which is then inserted into the meter. As this report demonstrates, and other studies have found, this payment method is often very challenging for the poorest consumers. The national and local lockdowns that resulted from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have badly exacerbated these challenges, with no ability to top up their meters without leaving the house, despite the Government advising us all to stay at home and stay safe.
Given the opportunities to top up remotely, NEA and EAS believe smart metering has long since offered the potential to provide significant benefits for vulnerable and low-income prepayment customers. Collectively we have worked hard to ensure these individuals are effectively engaged and supported throughout their smart meter journey, but the rollout has been slower than we had hoped.
This research study has been completed with the support of Smart Energy GB to evaluate the potential benefits of smart prepayment, investigate remaining barriers that are preventing further uptake and consider a range of potential interventions to maximise the rollout of smart prepayment in the remaining years of the rollout. It considers benefits, barriers, and interventions that could urgently help boost the deployment and uptake of smart meters for prepayment customers.