Scots forced to stop using gas and electricity as prepayment meters run out of credit

Glasgow, Scotland – May 28, 2024:

More than 30 Scottish households are being forced to stop using their gas and electricity every week because they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters.

Figures from national advice agency Advice Direct Scotland show that the energy crisis is far from over, with prices still high and many struggling to pay off debts to their suppliers.

The charity recorded three times as many cases of ‘self-disconnection’ in the first quarter of 2024 when compared to the period the energy crisis began in autumn 2021.

Self-disconnection occurs when someone stops using their gas or electricity because they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meter.

The situation would have been catastrophically worse if Advice Direct Scotland had not been able to step in to distribute grants worth more than £10 million to households struggling with energy costs over the past year.

This includes £9 million distributed through the Home Heating Support Fund in 2023/24, plus £1.3 million through community energy funds operating in East Lothian and Ayrshire.

Advice Direct Scotland staff have recorded a total of 2,487 cases of self-disconnection since the energy crisis hit in the autumn of 2021.

In the first three months of this year alone there were 410 cases, or more than 30 per week, with self-disconnection currently the second most common inquiry being dealt with by its energy advisers.

Advice Direct Scotland said the figures underline why the UK needs a social energy tariff, which would automatically put the most vulnerable customers on the cheapest deals.

The charity has been campaigning for the UK Government to work with energy suppliers to introduce the policy. Eligibility for the tariff could be determined by factors such as whether members of a household are in receipt of benefits or are on low incomes.

The move was backed by the bosses of two of the UK’s biggest energy companies, British Gas owner Centric and E.On, when they appeared at a Westminster committee earlier this month.

Advice Direct Scotland operates, which provides free, practical advice and information on energy-related matters to anyone in Scotland.

This ranges from supplier enquiries, understanding the complaints process, and what to do if experiencing problems with energy bills.

The team can be contacted on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or through

Hazel Knowles, Energy Lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said:

“It’s extremely worrying that despite the milder weather, one of the most common reasons people are calling us for help is because they have been forced to stop using their gas or electricity.

“This just goes to show that the energy crisis is far from over, with prices still much higher than they have been and many people still deep in debt to their suppliers.

“Struggling customers should know that they do not have to suffer in silence – our expert team is on hand for anyone who needs help, regardless of their personal circumstances.

“Steps to introduce a UK-wide social energy tariff should be taken now, as this would go some way to fixing the broken energy market and ending the scourge of fuel poverty.”


More information about Advice Direct Scotland’s campaign for a social energy tariff, including a Q&A, can be found here

A report on the energy bosses’ appearance at Westminster’s Energy and Net Zero Committee can be found here.

Advice Direct Scotland is a charity which runs the national advice service Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.

Advice related to energy issues is available at and on freephone 0808 196 8660, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The website also includes an online knowledge centre for Scots, with information on:

• Billing and meters

• Complaints and disputes

• Grants and assistance

• Scams and fraud

• Loss of energy supply

• Switching suppliers.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through Advice Direct Scotland’s service.

People can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 800 9060; and online, web chat and email at

Media Enquiries

Marc Roseblade - Head of Content, Media & Marketing

Marc Roseblade

Head of Content, Media and Marketing , Advice Direct Scotland
m: 07542 027083
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