HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc683-4W
Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the arrangements of the electricity and gas industries in disconnecting their respective supplies to homes; and if these arrangements are comparable in terms of time &c.

Mr. Eadie

In both industries bills are not rendered until about two weeks after the quarterly meter reading. Bills which remain unpaid four weeks after issue are the subject of final demand notices. Some seven to 10 days later, accounts which are still unpaid are considered individually and suitable action taken to secure settlement, or in extreme cases disconnect the supply.

The disconnection procedures operate no less than 35 days after rendering the account, during which period cases of genuine hardship may come to light or may be identified by the disconnection officers when they call. Such cases are referred to the social service organisations for examination with a view to enabling the supply to continue, during which time disconnection is withheld pending the outcome.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many disconnections of supply in (a) gas and (b) electricity took place as a result of fuel deficits in each year since 1970 in Great Britain; in how many cases had (1) the Department of Social Services local office and (2) the local authority social services department been consulted before disconnection; how many families with children and pensioners, respectively, were affected; and what was the average length of disconnection of supply.

Mr. Eadie

Information in the detail requested is not available, but the following has been provided by British Gas and the Electricity Council and given in reply to previous questions. There is no evidence of any significant change in the level of disconnections since these figures were reported.

Year ended Numbers Disconnected Percentage of Credit Consumers
31st March 1970 25,800 0.33
31st March 1971 25,100 0.31
31st March 1972 27,400 0.32
31st March 1973 32,934 0.37
31st March 1974 32,701 0.35
31st March 1975 34,872 0.35

Electricity. Figures for the disconnection of electricity supply in England and Wales for each year since 1970 are not available but for those years when a review of disconnections has been carried out the figures were:

Year Numbers Disconnected
1970 121,000
1971 119,000
To 31st March 1975 120,000
i.e. 0.7 per cent. of credit consumers

The area boards estimate that some 70 per cent. of consumers disconnected are reconnected within two days and nearly 90 per cent. within a month.

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