Friday, 5 February 2016

Little transparency from E.ON on deal with Age UK

Thank you to all who have supported the petition to get the energy company E.ON to compensate customers for any losses resulting from their Age-UK tariff. We are making progress but we need to maintain pressure.

Citing the "sensitive" nature of its payment to Age UK, E.ON confirmed the "commercial relationship" with Age UK. The involvement of a charity representing millions of older people should have transparent relationships with the commercial sector. Yesterday the scandal of Age UK commercial involvement with E.ON was front page news. The Energy Minister has asked Ofgem to investigate.

But Ofgem is a toothless 'regulator' with little power of enforcement. This is why it is important to keep the pressure on E.ON.

Age UK is the biggest charitable body representing and supporting older people. Its supporters do sterling work. But in promoting E.ON energy tariffs the board of Age UK has stepped over the line and compromised the charity's integrity.

Age UK rightly say that fuel prices go up and down. I believe their intentions were good, but the execution bad. They should not have compromised themselves in a commercial relationship but continued to campaign for lower energy prices and better deals for older people. Now they have locked themselves into the ludicrous position of having to defend a tariff that was not the best for many of those they intended to help.

It is ludicrous that energy prices appear to be a lottery for so many customers on fixed incomes. Energy costs are a large part of households expenditure. Heating is a necessity not a luxury. It shouldn't be necessary for older people to 'shop around' for the best deals. The need to stay warm and safe is not like a mobile phone. Vulnerable older people die through not being able to afford to heat their homes.

Age UK's poor judgement in its commercial deal with E.ON at least highlights once again the pitfalls of energy pricing and poor regulation. Ofgem is a toothless body. But we need fundamental reform of the energy market with provision to protect the most vulnerable. With political will it could be done.

The petition isn't aimed at the thousands of Age UK supporters who work tirelessly to help older people. It is aimed at E.ON and the Age UK board.

Let's push on to get justice for E.ON customers. We now have over 600 signatures, please help put pressure on E.ON.

Let's now reach the next milestone of 1000.

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