Gordon Brown calls for Ofgem boss to resign over prepaid meter scandal

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown (PA File)

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown (PA File)

Gordon Brown has called on the head of the energy regulator to retire over the forced installation of prepaid meters scandal.

Brown said chief executive of energy regulator Ofgem, Jonathan Brearley, should resign for “failing” to protect “impoverished customers” from utility companies and their debt collection agents breaking into their homes.

On Monday, magistrates in England and Wales were told to halt requests for energy companies to enter homes amid concerns that courts were sealing arrest warrants without examining whether or not customers were vulnerable.

Writing for The Independent, the former Labor premier said: “At this time of reshuffle, Ofgem’s regulator should consider its position for failing to meet its responsibilities to energy customers subject to forced installation of prepaid meters.”

Added Brown: “He and the now restructured Department of Energy should immediately explain why, rather than siding with the public, they have miserably failed to properly monitor and expose utility companies and their debt brokers who, in middle of the crisis. the worst cost-of-living crisis in fifty years, have been breaking into the homes of impoverished clients.”

Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley (PA)

Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley (PA)

The intervention comes after a report in the Times newspaper that British Gas subcontractors were breaking into the homes of customers, some of whom were disabled, to install the meters.

Brown also took aim at the government, saying the Department for Work and Pensions should drop “punitive” measures such as the bedroom tax and cap on benefits.

“Ministers are leaving families unable to cover the costs of their weekly food bill, without resorting to borrowing wherever they can find cash,” he said.

“The safety net of the welfare state is now riddled with holes, and instead of being the last line of defense for people in need, our own welfare ministry is pushing families into ever more desperate measures.”

According to Citizens Advice, some 600,000 people were forced to use a prepaid meter because they couldn’t pay their energy bills in 2022.

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “The allegations against British Gas are shocking. Ofgem is focused on protecting vulnerable customers and that is why we are acting quickly to ask all providers to stop forced installations of prepaid meters while we conduct a deeper review of the issues.

“We have also launched a formal investigation into British Gas and are barring them from forcibly installing any more PPM until the British Gas board can assure us they can protect vulnerable customers.”

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