Vulnerable people will not have their gas or electricity cut off, energy companies have pledged as part of measures announced in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Suppliers have worked together to agree a series of measures which includes particular support to the four million people on prepay meters. With the public now being advised to stay indoors and increasing numbers self-isolating, suppliers have agreed to either send credit directly to customers via post or automatically add credit to their meters.

For those in particularly financial difficulty, energy firms said debt repayments and bill payments could be paused or reduced. Suppliers will also consider sending staff to top-up customers' meters on their behalf.

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: "While friends and family will play a role in helping people impacted by the coronavirus, we recognise there will be many customers who will need additional support and reassurance, particularly those who are financially impacted or in vulnerable circumstances."

The Energy Networks Association said it has a workforce of around 36,000 people continuously working to ensure power can still be supplied to people's homes. In a letter, it said: "We look after your gas and electricity networks, and have well-practised contingency plans in place so we can keep your energy flowing. We want to reassure you that we are prepared."

Dame Gillian Guy, the head of Citizens Advice, said: "Keeping people on supply, making sure they have warm homes and don't face additional financial or other stresses about their energy supply will be essential."