Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) backed calls from Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, for UK Ministers to introduce greater flexibility for customers who cannot top up their prepaid electricity or gas meters online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Davey has written to the government and the CEO of Ofgem to raise concerns that customers who are self-isolating may be forced to go in store to top-up their credit or face being unable to heat their homes unless they are given increased protection.
In response, Mr McArthur commented:
“Many people rely on topping up their prepaid meters at local shops in communities across Orkney, particularly in areas where broadband isn’t always available or reliable. This obviously creates a dilemma for those who are forced to choose between potentially not self-isolating where necessary to ensure that their meters are topped up or risk being cut off altogether.
“Yesterday, the Chancellor repeatedly emphasised that the UK Government would do whatever was necessary to support people during this crisis. It therefore seems appropriate and logical for those who are sensibly following rules around self-isolation to be granted greater flexibility around paying their energy bills throughout this unprecedented period.
“I urge both UK Ministers and Ofgem to provide some guidance on this matter and offer much needed security to those who find themselves caught in this situation. By taking appropriate action, people in Orkney and elsewhere will not be unfairly penalised for how they respond to something that is entirely out with their control.
“As with all measures taken in response to the impact of coronavirus, action must be taken swiftly to offer vulnerable people the highest level of protection during this challenging time”.