Bill Blocked to Prevent Consumers with Prepayment “Smart” Meters from Losing Power Instantly for Non-payment

By B.N. Frank

Opposition to utility “smart” meters (electric, gas, and water) has been ongoing worldwide since they started being deployed over a decade ago.  In the U.K., an increasing number of complaints and issues have been making headlines (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), most notably because ½ million of the poorest households have been forced to accept prepayment smart meters which can make their bills even higher!  In fact, some may be able to take legal action because of this growing injustice.  Last month the Minister of State for Energy and Climate announced he would be “monitoring the situation closely”.  In the meantime, vulnerable consumers still seem to be at significant risk for having their power shut off.

From Daily Record:

SNP accuses Tories of blocking bill to stop people from having power cut off

Anne McLaughlin’s Bill has been blocked twice at the second reading stage.

By Andrew Quinn

Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin has twice brought a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons that would ban disconnecting households from gas or electricity.

But on both occasions it has been rejected at the second reading stage by the Government.

The Bill would also give those on prepayment meters a grace period to resolve debts and receive proper support before losing access to their energy. These are the same rights as those who pay by direct debit enjoy now.

McLaughlin is also chair of the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prepayment Meters. She said that the blocking of the Bill means continued “untold misery” for millions of members of the public.

Findings from the Office for National Statistics released earlier this week found that the cost of living crisis is also having a profound impact on mental health.

Forty-one per cent of respondents who use prepayment meters for energy bills are more likely to report experiencing moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms.

Last month it was revealed that over a quarter of Scots on prepayment smart meters had been disconnected from power between July and September last year.

Alba MP Kenny MacAskill called on the Government to reduce tariffs for those on prepayment meters, as they often tend to be more expensive than direct debits.

McLaughlin’s Bill will be put forward for a second reading again on 3 March. She called on the UK Government to support it to stop people from having to “live in the freezing cold” over winter.

She said: “If Rishi Sunak, who clearly doesn’t need to worry about affording his own energy bills, simply decided not to pay them, he’d have at least 6 months before the possibility of disconnection was even mentioned. For those on prepayment meters, it happens instantly.

“The Tories’ failure to address this glaring inequality has allowed people, including those with disabilities, older people and people with terminal illnesses to live in the freezing cold this winter as they face a perfect storm of ever-rising energy costs and inflationary pressures.

“It’s little wonder this has had a profound impact on people’s mental health. This is an issue that will continue to cause untold misery for millions of households until the Tories step up, stop blocking my Bill, and take action to afford equal rights to everyone regardless of how they pay for their energy.

“If the Tories are serious about actually wanting to assist people they’ll do the right thing.

“Westminster is failing families across Scotland, making it clear that only with the full powers of independence can we deliver the right support to help people through these difficult times.”

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While resolving “prepayment” issues are critically needed, this won’t necessarily stop energy providers from forcing the installation of hazardous non-prepayment “smart” meters on UK homes.  Adding insult to injury, proponents continue to insist that “smart” meters are essential for “energy efficiency”, while research has proven otherwise (see 1, 2, 3).

In addition to billing errors and higher bills (see 1, 2), “smart” meters have been associated with cybersecurity risks, fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), installation mishaps, mechanical issues, harmful radiation emissions, and short lifespans.  Nevertheless, utility companies have been forcing their installation (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) so they can remotely control and/or ration energy use (see 1, 2) as well as collect consumer usage data 24/7 to sell and/or share with 3rd parties (see 1, 2).

Activist Post reports regularly about “smart” meters and other privacy invasive and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Image: Pixabay

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