Mam notes that
Companies could be making up to £550m a year from extra charges they charge on prepayment meters.
These customers who pay by prepayment meter subsidise customers who can get the cheapest deals.
This is clearly wrong. The poorest customers, those least able to pay, shouldn't be giving profit boosts to the energy supply companies, and should absolutely not pay extra in order to subsidise "deals" offered to better off customers.
However I do have a serious concern about campaigns against prepayment meter charges. Prepayment is more expensive to collect than monthly direct debit or quarterly bill payment. If you charge your gas key in the village shop's PayPoint machine, then both the shopkeeper and PayPoint expect to be paid for offering the service. The customer who has the convenience of paying in this way should expect to pay the costs of that convenience. We mustn't forget that the being able to pay for utilities at £3, £5 or £10 a time IS convenient to most of those who use the service.
Some time ago (in the mid 1990's) the Water Boards offered a similar service to poorer customers. They could pay their Water charges in the dribs and drabs that they could afford using a charge card. It was a service that millions of poorer people subscribed to, voluntarily, because it made payment easier for them.
Unfortunately some Socialist do-gooders who could, no doubt, afford their own water rates, complained to the courts about the legality of the scheme, and it was withdrawn. The withdrawal of the scheme made many of those who were happy with the system unable to pay and plunged them into a debt that they couldn't afford.
In supporting any campaign to get costs down for prepayment customers, I do hope that the campaigners don't throw the baby out with the bath water (sorry for the pun) as they did with water prepayment. Losing the ability to prepay the energy bills a little at a time would be a disaster for most low income families.