Category Archives: Consumers

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

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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

Fuel poverty – the next steps?

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The Coalition Government devolved the delivery of fuel poverty policy to the energy supply industry by introducing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to the household names in the energy supply business. Via their licence to supply, they are obligated to reduce domestic carbon emissions (ie help households to use less energy) by the most cost-effective method.

Scaling back of the Energy Company Obligation 

This turned out to be a programme which added about 5% to gas bills and about 11% to electricity bills  yielding some £1bn per year for remedial fuel poverty work. As global energy prices rose, these ‘extras’ on gas and electricity bills came into the firing line, and the Government scaled back ECO in 2013. With no tax-funded programme in play, and what is effectively a cap on what it obliges energy companies to do, the outlook for those in fuel poverty is bleak.  Continue reading

New plans for private pensions – Age UK’s response

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In March, the Chancellor announced some dramatic changes to the rules on how people can access their pension pots from defined contribution schemes in his budget.  Age UK has just submitted its response to the Government’s formal consultation.

Continue reading