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Gov to propose legislation that will prevent vulnerable gas customers being disconnected

Thu, 14 Dec 2023

Government will propose legislation at next week’s sitting of the House of Keys (December 19) aimed at providing the Council of Ministers (CoMin) with the ability to prevent disconnection for gas customers in certain circumstances.

This power is intended as a safeguard to protect domestic gas customers from disconnection, for those households needing additional protection in key winter months.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Kate Lord-Brennan MHK, will seek support to take the Gas Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2023 through each of its stages at Tuesday’s sitting.

If approved, the Bill would then be immediately passed to the Legislative Council, where Bill Henderson MLC would also seek support to take the Bill through each of its stages in a single sitting.

The Government says that the Bill is short and focused; the key measure to give CoMin the power to make an Order to specify circumstances where gas customers may not be disconnected for non-payment.  The intention in the making of any Order would relate to premises for domestic gas customers who may need additional protection.

In addition, provision is made to require public gas suppliers to produce documentation and information to the Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority, in connection with its regulatory role regarding the setting of tariffs.

CoMin considers the need for this measure to be important as a backstop, given the recent public concern and discussions in the House of Keys and Tynwald regarding the policy and practice of gas disconnections on the Island.

If the Bill becomes law, any Order issued by CoMin would set out the circumstances where a gas supplier will not be permitted to cut off a gas supply and would ultimately require the approval of Tynwald.

Minister Lord-Brennan said: “There has been growing reports in recent weeks over customers being disconnected from their gas supply and in some cases this has caused great distress.  The Council of Ministers has viewed this with significant concern and sought to identify what action can be taken to better protect people. 

“It is clear that additional safeguards by way of legislative measures are now appropriate as a backstop, notwithstanding Isle of Man Energy publishing its disconnection policy.”

The intention is to ensure that Island residents are no less protected than consumers in the UK in respect of disconnections and is hoped to “at least mirror protections in the UK for certain identified groups determined to be more vulnerable or at risk”.  

Any proposed changes will not mean that liability for any sums owing would be cancelled.


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