London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 28, 2009 – Disconnections of domestic energy customers in the United Kingdom fell by 30 percent in 2008, the energy regulator Ofgem has reported in its latest annual review of domestic suppliers’ social obligations.
During 2008 there were 5,890 domestic energy disconnections, compared with 8,384 in 2007 and 30,000 a year a decade ago.
“The fall in total disconnections and reducing numbers in debt is encouraging,” said Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s director of governance, consumer and social affairs, adding that in these tough economic times it is more important than ever that energy suppliers do all they can to help customers who are struggling to pay their bills.
The number of gas customers disconnected for debt fell 48 percent to 2,999 in 2008, while the number of electricity disconnections for debt rose by nine percent to 2,891. However, the rate of increase for electricity disconnection slowed significantly during 2008 compared with previous years.
Ofgem also reported that at the end of 2008, 1.3 million electricity customers and 0.8 million gas customers were repaying a debt – a three percent reduction for electricity but a two per cent increase for gas compared with the end of 2007. The majority of indebted customers owed less than £100.
Accordingly the overall amount of debt owed by domestic energy customers has broadly remained static. However, average weekly repayment amounts increased slightly.
In addition the overall number of customers paying by prepayment meter remained broadly static during 2008, but there was a decrease in the number of prepayment meters installed, mainly for electricity and mainly on request.
During 2008, 253,000 gas prepayment meters and 245,000 electricity prepayment meters were installed, of which the majority were for debt recovery (179,000 gas and 178,000 electricity) and the remainder on customer request. At the end of 2008 there were 3.6 million electricity prepayment customers and 2.4 million gas prepayment customers.
Ofgem said in the report that with the recession continuing and the prospects of growing numbers of households finding themselves struggling financially, it will continue to monitor these figures carefully and to investigate where it has particular concerns.