Energy: Billing:Written question - 54917

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Asked on: 04 June 2020
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Energy: Billing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of debts energy companies owe to their customers arising from direct debit payments (a) before and (b) during the covid-19 outbreak.
A
Answered by: Kwasi Kwarteng
Answered on: 11 June 2020

Direct debit customers build up credit balances for a variety of reasons: smoothing bills over seasons, changes in consumption patterns, and if suppliers have to estimate the amount of energy used if no meter reading has been provided.

Suppliers have policies on refunding excessive credit balances, and we encourage all consumers to provide frequent meter readings and to monitor payment levels to ensure their payments are appropriate.

BEIS does not collect data on direct debt customer credit balances so has not made an assessment of how these have changed before or during the Covid-19 outbreak. Ofgem can collect data on credit balances by requesting it from suppliers through a formal Request For Information and have done so on occasion in the past, allowing them to monitor this.

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