Following pressure from consumer rights groups, British Gas has agreed to stop backdating price rises for token prepay meter customers, joining Scottish and Southern Energy and EDF energy in the pledge, Energywatch has reported.

The practice of backdating was carried out to help energy providers claw back money after they had raised their prices. Unfortunately, energy companies were slow to recalibrate the meters of this group of customers, resulting in lump sum bills being issued to cover arrears, which many customers struggled to deal with.

However, the new agreement will ensure that metered customers will not in future suffer the shock and potential financial hardship created by backdated bills.

It is estimated that the decision will cost British Gas GBP20 million, but it will pile pressure onto rivals that still insist on backdating bills, including Powergen, National Power and ScottishPower, Energywatch suggests.

Energywatch director of campaigns Adam Scorer commented: This is good news. About 150,000 British Gas prepayment consumers will no longer get the shock of an unexpected, undeserved debt…79 MPs also signed a parliamentary motion tabled by Brian Donohoe MP, which called on suppliers to end the iniquitous practice.