LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Britain's energy market regulator Ofgem said on Monday it will introduce new licence rules for power suppliers from Dec. 15 to help protect customers who are struggling to pay their bills this winter.
Ofgem said the new licence rules will give those in financial distress some breathing space but ultimately all customers need to pay for the energy they use.
One of the rules will make suppliers offer emergency credit to customers struggling to top up their pre-payment energy meter, which customers use to pay in advance for their energy supply by topping up their credit on a card or key at certain shops.
This could be because they temporarily cannot afford to top up or get to their local shop to top up because of a mobility issue or due to self-isolation due to COVID-19 restrictions, for example.
Suppliers will also have to offer extra pre-payment credit for households in vulnerable circumstances while they work out alternative arrangements to pay, Ofgem said.
Another new rule will require suppliers to put customers in debt on realistic and sustainable repayment plans from Dec. 15.
"Customers who are struggling to pay their bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible. The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter," said Philippa Pickford, director of retail at Ofgem.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Susan Fenton)