Fuel poverty is a growing problem across the UK. Cadent owns and operates the gas pipes that supply essential heat and cooking facilities to 19 of the 20 counties with the highest proportion of fuel poverty in England. To help combat this, each year, we provide thousands of customers living in fuel poverty with free or subsidised connections to the gas network and work with them to provide energy efficiency advice and support to help them out of fuel poverty.
On the 9th December we will publish our Business Plan for the next five years – from April 2021 until March 2026. In it we will set out proposals for our future Customer Vulnerability Strategy. We have developed this over the last 18 months with input from thousands of our customers, stakeholders and expert organisations working to support customers with a variety of additional needs, including those living in fuel poverty. Our Plan builds on the firm foundations that we have set over time, including the leading role that we have played in creating a single Priority Services Register across all energy companies and in raising awareness to the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Our new strategy is our most ambitious and challenging to date. As the largest energy network within the UK, we and our customers believe that we should take a leading role in supporting customers and in developing the landscape for the future; one that ensures that access to services is based on customers’ specific needs, irrespective of their circumstances or where they live. The overarching principle of our strategy is not to utilise labels and categories, but to provide services to all
, recognising the requirements of each customer individually and tailoring services to meet their needs. Providing services for all means gaining and maintaining a deep understanding of our customers’ needs and co-creating responses with partner organisations to ensure that the appropriate skills and services are deployed. To us, vulnerability describes a situation, be it transient or permanent that can impact any customer at some point during their life. Vulnerability can arise through changes that happen both inside and outside of the energy industry. Those customers who find themselves in a vulnerable situation are more affected by our action or inaction than other customers.
Our proposed future strategy recognises and acts on this though four core commitments:
- Tackling affordability & fuel poverty – leveraging the success we’ve seen from our current approach and going beyond to offer a wide range of additional advice, support and services, to permanently take households out of fuel poverty. Our involvement with the Connected For Warmth Scheme, launched today (29th November), will enable us to take more real action to help those customers in most need.
- To never leave a customer vulnerable without gas – recognising that an absence of gas to people’s homes and businesses can leave anyone vulnerable and seeking to provide a range of additional welfare and technical support, especially to those who need it most.
- Protecting our customers from the dangers of Carbon Monoxide – expanding the reach of our awareness and education programmes and distributing potentially life-saving carbon monoxide alarms.
- Identifying customer needs and joining up with support services – helping all of our customers to understand the range of additional support available to those in vulnerable situations so that we and others can better serve their needs.
We are very proud of the work we have done in this space over a number of years and extremely excited about our future proposals. We are committed to continuing to challenge ourselves to deliver more for those most in need.
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day (29th
November 2019) is coordinated by NEA and is the national day to raise awareness of some of the issues faced by those living in cold homes and provide information about the solutions available.