Age UK and E.on have been exposed by The Sun as the charity was paid £6m by the energy giant for a deal to sign up pensioners to its fixed rate tariff. Some claim it is standard practice for price comparison websites to get a commission for passing on business, yet when a charity is involved then it looks quite different.
The main allegation is that thousands of pensioners were not informed properly that they could switch to newer deals that would save them £245 a year. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said "I take very seriously this allegation that Britain's pensioners are being misled” and she has ordered OFGEM to look at it.
Last year Age UK warned that a third of older people are ‘anxious’ about ‘high heating costs’ and had criticised the Big Six power firms for overcharging, now it seems they are in league with the rip off.
Last week Age UK chief executive Tom Wright, who earns more than £180,000 a year allegedly, was announced as a non-executive director of the Financial Conduct Authority, where he will be regulating companies and helping to protect consumers, no conflict of interest there then!
In a statement, the Charity Commission said: “The Commission is aware of concerns raised in the media regarding Age UK’s partnership activities with E.ON. The Commission is in contact with both Age UK and OFGEM to determine what regulatory role the Commission might have and any action that might be necessary.” So be prepared for another whitewash report hitting the desks.
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. The Conservative MP Dan Poulter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is a moral obligation for the charity and E.ON to recompense them.”