UK power industry watchdog Energywatch has issued a stinging criticism of utilities for causing metered customers financial hardship through tardiness when applying price rises.

Energywatch and Citizens Advice have joined forces to expose how some energy companies’ failure to implement their own price rises is creating instant debt and misery for more than one million British households. In some cases, household weekly expenditure on electricity is more than doubling.

More than a million pre-payment electricity meters in use in Britain are antiquated ‘token meters’ that rely on consumers feeding them with paper tokens. The meters are often used by low and fixed income householders to budget and control their expenditure.

However, these ‘token meters’ need manual resetting after every price rise and, as most companies are slow to reset the meters, consumers are being faced with hundreds of pounds of ‘back charges’ once backdated price rises have been added to their meters.

Energywatch and Citizens Advice are calling for companies to stop backdating price rises when they reset customers meters. The organizations also want the regulator Ofgem to set a time limit for meter recalibration.