Age UK recommended a special rate from E.ON which saw pensioners typically pay £1,049 for a year’s fuel — £245 more than on the firm’s cheapest 2015 rate.
Around 152,000 customers are on the deal, meaning a total overspend of £37million in a year.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has asked watchdog Ofgem to investigate and report back.
It is sad to see AgeUK get caught up in this, almost certainly the result of the corrosive influence of commercial involvement in charities.
AgeUK is the one large bureaucratic charity that has done good in the retirement housing sector, producing decent reports and submissions to the authorities.
It is also also a consistent supporter of Carlex’s analysis of the retirement housing sector – there are plenty of inducements not to agree with it.
None of its efforts have been funded by housebuilders (unlike the drivel produced by the formerly Blairite think tank Demos).
AgeUK also avoided like the plague disastrous Campaign for Housing in Later Life – the campaign funded by the House Builders’ Federation, registered to McCarthy and Stone HQ, and fronted by Esther Rantzen, who remains deaf to the parlous state of retirement housing in the UK.
Shelter, on the other hand, signed up but quickly resigned from this campaign – basically, special pleading for easier planning for retirement housebuilders – after Carlex kicked up a fuss. It has consistently done nothing about retirement housing or wider leasehold at all.
Peverel / FirstPort which had wheedled its way into this campaign was then expelled. (And we have not heard anything about it since, although Esther Rantzen spoke about last month. But one suspects she has limited interest in this sector.)
It is true that AgeUK’s discontinued leasehold help service was funded by Peverel, which was also an error.
But there are good people involved in the charity. There will be a tightening up after this scandal, and it can only do good to make it public.
Full marks to The Sun for doing some proper journalism and putting this large charity under scrutiny.
Comment from AgeUK:
“The Age UK Fixed 2 Year tariff offers a good deal and was the market leading 2 year tariff when launched in January. For example, the Age UK Fixed two Year tariff(1) is over £100 cheaper than that E.ON Standard Variable tariff (2) and is cheaper than other variable tariffs.
“When customers contact us they are offered a choice of all four E.ON tariffs and many choose the one year tariff or variable option, however many prefer the reassurance of a fixed tariff for two years. We have no exit fees so customers can move anytime if they find a different deal. This means they can pick a tariff that best suits their needs. E.ON also offers a free Price Alerts system that lets customers know of potentially better deals as soon as they’re available.
“The long term Commercial partnership includes a typical commission to Age UK of £10 for each customer. Financial support beyond this is not linked to customer numbers.
The past two years have seen much volatility in the energy market and with E.ON’s support we have managed to maintain our level of charitable work over this time. This reflects the strength of the 14 year relationship.”