HC Deb 21 May 2004 vol 421 cc1274-5W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if site will make a statement on actions being taken by(a) Ofgem and (b) industry to minimise disconnections made in error; [174361]

(2) what assessment she has made of the impact of energy disconnections for debt; [174362]

(3) how many household (a) gas and (b) electricity disconnections were made in each year from 2000; and how many were made in error in each case in each year. [174363]

Mr. Timms

Disconnection remains an appropriate action of last resort where a customer has repeatedly failed to respond to efforts to secure payment or to make specific repayment arrangements. However, this power must be subject to appropriate safeguards. I welcome the arrangements proposed by Ofgem and energy suppliers in April to improve those safeguards to protect vulnerable customers. The total number of disconnections for debt between 2000 and 2003 was:

Gas Electricity Total
2000 16,500 300 16,800
2001 26,088 375 26,463
2002 21,780 995 22,775
2003 15,973 1,361 17,334

Ofgem does not collect data about disconnections made in error. Such disconnections are plainly unacceptable. If the hon. Member or other have information about such cases, they should provide the evidence to Energy watch, which is responsible for investigating complaints against gas and electricity suppliers. Energywatch may provide evidence to, and recommend regulatory action by, Ofgem.