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Energy network companies and leading charities join forces to support older people

Published on 26 May 2023 10:46 AM

Older people who are in or at risk of fuel poverty are the focus of a £1million partnership launched by the UK’s gas infrastructure companies with three national charities.

Age Cymru, Age Scotland, and Age UK have signed up to the collaboration which involves SGN, as well as the other gas distribution networks (GDNs) Cadent, Wales & West Utilities and Northern Gas Networks.

The campaign will look to ensure that older people in the UK are aware of and assisted to access the support services which help increase household income, including benefits checks. It will also provide information on how to use energy safely and efficiently at home.

Rising energy bills over the past 12 months have led to more people feeling worried about their ability to stay warm, safe and healthy at home.

Therefore, the four GDNs are helping each charity in their coverage area with resources, including funding for Benefits Advisers, who will help older people gain access to the benefits and monetary support they’re entitled to, potentially increasing their household income by up to £2,000 a year on average.

Staying connected to energy is extremely important for older people, many of which depend on vital medical equipment such as dialysis machines to manage long term health conditions. The funding, which has been provided through the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA) by the energy industry regulator Ofgem, also allows the charities to assist older people join the Priority Services Register – ensuring they’ll receive extra support if they’re ever without their gas, water, or electricity supply.

Kerry Potter, SGN’s Social Impact and Vulnerability Manager, said: “Looking after our vulnerable customers is so important to us at SGN, so I’m delighted we’ve launched this impactful partnership with the UK’s leading older people’s charities. We understand that many older people aren’t aware of the support available to help with essential household costs, which is why we’re all working to a common outcome to help them maintain a safe and warm home, through the right support and information.”

Age Cymru Chief Executive Victoria Lloyd said: “We’re very grateful to be working alongside Wales and West Utilities to reach vulnerable older customers across Wales at a time when we know thousands of people are struggling with soaring costs. Between 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, the charity had 73,728 visits to our benefits advice pages in addition to 4,500 calls on benefits alone to our advice line, demonstrating how important the issue of financial support is becoming to older people. 

“Some people don’t claim as they may think they’re not eligible, perhaps because they own their own home or have savings. Some are put off by the claims process or simply don’t realise the range of support that is available to them in older age. And others might feel they are managing or don’t want to be seen as needing to claim. 

“This partnership will be so important in helping us reach more older people and provide the vital support they need at such a difficult time.”

Hannorah Lee, Director of Partnerships at Age UK, said “This past winter was one of the most difficult many older people will have ever experienced. In January a massive 9.6 million older people were worried about being able to heat their homes and over 7 million were worried about affording other essentials such as food.

“At the same time, over £1.5 billion in benefits go unclaimed by older people every year. Thanks to funding from the UK GDNs, we can help older people to check their entitlements, potentially unlocking vital extra income that could help them get through the cost-of-living crisis.”

Age Cymru has developed a cost-of-living page on its website that is packed full of information to help older people cope with the current financial challenges:   

If anyone would like to seek the support of the Charity’s information and advice service about this or any other matter, call 0300 303 44 98 between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, or email


Last updated: May 26 2023

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