Charity for the elderly accused in fuel overcharging row
E.ON and Age UK should refund pensioners who were overcharged for fuel under a scheme involving the charity, a member of a parliamentary energy committee has said. The charity earned £6m a year for encouraging thousands to sign up to special rate that was £245 higher than cheapest tariff
The Conservative MP Dan Poulter said there was a “moral obligation” for the company, one of the big six energy suppliers, and the UK’s largest pensioner charity to recompense energy users because they appeared to have paid hundreds of pounds too much over the last year.
The Sun newspaper claimed that Age UK recommended a special rate from E.ONcosting pensioners £1,049 a year – £245 more than its cheapest rate. It said the charity received about £41 from E.ON for every person it signed up to the deal, totalling £6m a year.
“This [special tariff agreed by E.ON and Age UK] is not a good deal for old people … many of whom may be in fuel poverty,” Poulter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding: “There is a moral obligation for the charity and E.ON to recompense them.”
The energy regulator, Ofgem, has already promised to investigate the scheme but both E.ON and Age UK insist it was a good deal. Age UK told the BBC: “We strongly reject the allegations and interpretation of figures in this article. Energy prices change all the time and we have always advised older people to look out for new good deals and we will continue to do so.”
E.ON argued the £1,049 annual deal was a two-year fixed deal which, although more expensive than its cheapest rate, was favoured by some customers because it provided longer-term certainty over potential price increases.
The company said: “We always work to make sure our tariffs, for all customers, are competitively priced and that is further evidenced by the fact that our current Age UK tariff was the UK’s cheapest product of its type in the UK when it was launched.”