Tens of thousands of Scots have been forced onto pay as you go energy meters against their will, new analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland suggests. 

Around 23,936 people have been forced onto an electric prepayment meter and 12,000 onto a gas prepayment meter against their wishes, the charity estimates after analysing polling from YouGov. 

Companies have also used a ‘back door’ approach, Citizen's Advice Scotland says, by switching smart meters into pay as you go meters.

Read more: Three energy firms permitted to return to forcible prepayment meter installation

In these cases around 17,952 have seen their electricity meter changed without their consent and around 12,000 for gas. 

The analysis comes after energy regulator Ofgem gave approval for suppliers to restart forced installations. 

The Herald: Thousands of Scots have been forced to use a prepayment meter against their will Thousands of Scots have been forced to use a prepayment meter against their will (Image: PA)

Emma Jackson, social justice spokesperson for Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “The issue of forced installations of prepayment meters shocked and horrified people last year, and this research suggests the scale of the issue.

"As some suppliers get the green light to resume the practice many people, especially those behind on bills and struggling with energy debt, will be worried. 

“We believe that the forced installation of these meters should be banned permanently. For many people it means energy is a luxury at the start of the month, and then something they have to ration or even go without the further away the get from pay day."

Read more: Inconsistent advice issued on prepayment meter warrants

Among the people who have been affected was a pensioner whose energy supplier switched him to a prepayment meter without warning. 

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said a billing error left him with a significant debt, and he now pays up to £170 a fortnight to clear it - leaving him with little money to pay for anything else. 

Another woman on Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment sought advice from CAS after her supplier informed her it had applied for a warrant to fit a prepayment meter in her home. 

She offered to pay towards her arrears plus monthly usage, but her supplier rejected the offer and increased her monthly bill. 

Read more: Prepayment meters seeing Scots go without food 

Ms Jackson said: “Anyone who is worried about bills and money this winter should seek advice from the CAB network. For anyone on a prepayment meter struggling to top, don’t struggle alone. Advice and support is available.

“That doesn’t have to mean going to a CAB, our online advice pages are used by millions of people a year and we have interactive self-help tools to help people see where they could boost their incomes or cut their costs.

“The CAB network gets incredible results for people. Last year the average gain for someone who saw one after seeking advice was over £3,700. That can be absolutely life changing money this winter. We don’t judge, we just help.”

Read more: Vulnerable Scots living with rats and mould in 'worrying numbers'

The charity is encouraging people to seek help from the Citizens Advice network in a variety of ways. People can visit www.cas.org.uk/worried  and from there they can choose an option that works for them.

This includes using self-help tools like moneymap.scot, specialist services like the Money Talk Team, and visiting a local Citizens Advice for one-to-one advice. 

Last year Citizens Advice said the average gain from energy-related advice from across the network was more than £400. Advice gains generally for those who saw a benefit was more than £3,700.