Sunderland's Age UK rejects energy fix claim

Managing director of Age UK, Sunderland, Alan Patchett.Managing director of Age UK, Sunderland, Alan Patchett.
Managing director of Age UK, Sunderland, Alan Patchett.
A charity for the elderly with a branch in Sunderland is facing an investigation by watchdogs.

Dealings between Age UK and energy firm E.On are being examined by the Charity Commission.

The regulators have launched a probe over claims Age UK accepted £6m a year from E.On, in return for recommending tariffs to the elderly which could have been cheaper.

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The claim has been “strongly” rejected by the charity both nationally and locally.

The allegation, in a national newspaper, claims the charity recommended a special rate which may have been more expensive than the cheapest offers from the firm.

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK, Sunderland, said: “We have worked tirelessly for the last nine years to try reduce excess winter deaths from the cold and to help people with fuel poverty issues in Sunderland.

“If people want to change energy suppliers we will help them to do that.

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“We are dedicated to helping older people and would never, ever, rip them off.”

A spokesman for the charity nationally said: “We strongly reject the allegations and interpretation of figures.

“The long-term commercial partnership includes a typical commission to Age UK of £10 for each customer. Financial support beyond this is not linked to customer numbers.”

A Charity Commission spokesman 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.”