Category Archives: Consumers

Complaining to energy suppliers


We’ve all heard people complaining about poor service from their energy companies. We’ve all read newspaper articles about inaccurate bills and unanswered queries. We’ve all seen the hefty fines handed to companies for failing customers.   In truth, the energy sector has not covered itself in glory handling consumer complaints.

But householders do not need to grin and bear it. Legal and other changes to consumer protection offer increased support to aggrieved customers. All the major energy companies are now answerable to an Ombudsman. But to take action, the Ombudsman needs to be satisfied that the consumer has followed due process. Continue reading

A great place to grow older?

Today, we launched our Agenda for Later Life 2015 report, Age UK’s annual assessment of how public policy is meeting the needs of older people. Here, Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy, discuss the findings of the report in light of the upcoming Spending Review. 

In the run up to what is likely to be one of the most challenging Spending Reviews of recent times, Agenda for Later Life, Age UK’s annual audit of how public policy is meeting the needs of our ageing population, highlights that older people are increasingly being thrown back on their own resources, as the public services on which they rely are being scaled back or withdrawn.

Each year, we track a number of key indicators, and this year shows progress in many areas but also the scale of the challenge facing us. Continue reading

Smart energy for all

Just over a month ago, Smart Energy GB published a consultation paper as part of its work to support the roll-out of smart meters in an inclusive and engaging manner.

In ‘Smart energy for all’, Smart Energy GB set out what it has learned from research about the potential difficulties which might challenge the programme amongst some sections of the population, and what it does not know and where it would welcome more evidence.

The consultation paper is thorough and comprehensive. The point is that here we have, within the next five years, the opportunity to really change the way the British public thinks about and uses energy, and we ought to get it right from the start.

What about older people 

Older households make up a third of the national total. We know that older households see advantages in understanding more about their energy use, so that they can use it with confidence to keep adequately warm, without worrying about unwelcome and unexpected bills.

The end of estimated bills, and the ending of meter readers’ visits, will be applauded.   But can the simple process of installing a new meter and a domestic meter display unit help older people to take maximum advantage from the new technology?   Continue reading

Scams – time to tackle an urgent problem


Over half (53%) of people aged 65+ believe they’ve been targeted by a scam, as revealed by an Age UK poll. This means a staggering 5.7 million people could be at risk.

And the scale of problem is probably even worse due to under-reporting – over 60% of people who received a scam didn’t report it to anyone.

Not everyone responded to attempted scams but of those who did 70% lost money. A third of older people who did respond may have lost £1,000 or more.

These alarming figures – from our new evidence review – come as new pension freedoms take effect. Many people over 55 now have access to pension savings worth tens of thousands of pounds and fraudsters will target them. Continue reading