The Council of Ministers has put in place legislation to protect vulnerable people from gas disconnection over the winter period.
The Gas Regulation (Prevention of Disconnections) Order 2024 provides that households with residents over pensionable age, children under 6, or those eligible for Disability Living Allowance or War Disablement Pension, cannot have their gas cut off between 1 October and 31 March by a public gas supplier for non-payment of bills.
The Council of Ministers has agreed the Order, made under the Gas Regulation (Amendment) Act 2024, which was progressed in both the House of Keys and Legislative Council in a single day in December and received Royal Assent at this month’s sitting of Tynwald.
This legislation was brought forward following concerns that vulnerable or at-risk gas customers were being disconnected, or were at risk of being disconnected, during the winter months.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Kate Lord-Brennan MHK, said:
'This measure has been taken to protect vulnerable members of our society who are more susceptible to risk of poor health outcomes as a result of cold weather and a lack of heating and hot water. The Council of Ministers views this as the minimum necessary legislative protections for vulnerable persons and will continue to keep the issue of disconnections under review.
'Isle of Man residents should be offered no less protection than those residing elsewhere in the British Isles, and therefore the Council of Ministers has sought to at least mirror those key protections in place elsewhere, which is why, following various concerns represented, we moved quickly with the primary legislation and this Order.
'We also welcome recent moves by Isle of Man Energy towards expanding their support services and commitments for their vulnerable customers, and encourage the supplier to build upon these minimum protections which the Council of Ministers has considered it necessary to introduce.'
The Gas Regulation (Prevention of Disconnections) Order 2024 will go through the Tynwald affirmative resolution procedure in the February sitting but is effective immediately.
Any members of the public struggling to pay bills should discuss this with their utility supplier and continue to make some form of payment where possible.
People should also continue to raise any issues with bills, payments, or customer service with the Office of Fair Trading and may wish to consider contacting their Debt Counselling Service.
For additional support around supplier issues residents can contact the Office of Fair Trading, for advice regarding financial concerns residents can speak to the debt counselling service or visit the cost of living support page.