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MP: Stop disconnecting pre-payment meter customers who have run out of credit

SNP MP Anne McLaughlin (SNP/PA)
SNP MP Anne McLaughlin (SNP/PA)

An SNP MP has urged energy companies to stop disconnecting customers with pre-payment meters who have run out of credit.

Anne McLaughlin called for a change in the law to allow a grace period, warning: “If we don’t deal with this urgently, then I’m afraid people are going to die.”

The Glasgow North East MP told the Commons: “We, as well paid MPs, could potentially run up hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds of debt to energy companies before they disconnect our supply.

“Whilst those on pre-payment meters will be left to freeze in the dark the minute they owe just ten pounds. It is this inequity that my bill seeks to address.”

She said her bill would “put an end to those on pre-payment meters being treated differently to those of us who enjoy the benefit of paying in arrears. My bill is asking for so-called self-disconnection to be stopped”.

She went on: “They do need to act quickly…It is not melodramatic, it’s not even an exaggeration to say that if we don’t deal with this urgently, then I’m afraid people are going to die.”

Looking ahead to the colder months, she said: “We simply cannot let pensioners self-disconnect this winter, they must be treated at least equally to MPs when it comes to the right to be warm.”

On the risk of customer debt, she added: “If anyone in this chamber is asked to choose debt or death for their constituent who among us would not choose debt as the lesser of two evils?”

She said: “I want an end to so-called self-disconnection. It’s cruel, it’s dangerous and it will end the lives of our constituents prematurely if we don’t stop it, but we can stop it.”

Her Pre-Payment Meters (Self-Disconnection) Bill was listed for a second reading on Friday, December 9, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.