- Cadent Foundation joined forces with National Energy Action to identify people ‘at risk’ after their gas supply was disconnected on safety grounds
- 1,467 households helped by ‘Reactive Response’ programme in 15 months during the energy crisis – preventing physical and mental health issues and debt
- Scheme now ‘business as usual’ for Cadent, with call on wider utility sector to roll out programme.
Today, new research conducted by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action shows how a pioneering partnership with the Cadent Foundation has kept 1,467 households safe, while preventing them from falling into debt – at a time when the energy crisis has taken hold.
The Reactive Response programme supports vulnerable customers who have had their gas supply disconnected on safety grounds by a Cadent engineer and are unable to afford the repair costs, potentially leaving families with no heating, hot water, or means of cooking. Reactive Response enables Cadent engineers to make an immediate referral to National Energy Action to resolve the issue by requesting important funding, helping customers to remain warm and well at home after their supply is reinstated.
An independent evaluation of the Cadent Foundation funded Reactive Response scheme, which is a first for the UK, found that:
- Without Reactive Response, households would likely have experienced deterioration of their physical and mental health
- It is estimated the scheme has prevented the accumulation of over £150,000 worth of potentially harmful borrowing
- Reactive Response has led to substantial improvements in the ability of vulnerable Cadent customers to heat their homes affordably, positively impacting a reduction in fuel poverty
- The scheme has been an effective way of reaching the most vulnerable households across Cadent’s networks that wouldn’t otherwise have received any help
Adam Scorer, chief executive National Energy Action, says:
“From April 7.5 million UK households will be in fuel poverty, according to our figures. When there is a problem customers may have to be disconnected from the gas supply for safety. While some can afford to fix the problem, those in fuel poverty could have been left off supply – cold and desperate. The Reactive Response programme means we can identify those who need urgent help and with Cadent we can get them reconnected as soon as possible so they can get the lights and heat back on.”
As part of the analysis on the Reactive Response programme, three recommendations have been outlined by the charity:
- How to replicate the success of Reactive Response across other energy industry projects
- How the energy networks can improve the services they provide to vulnerable customers
- How Ofgem can support the transition of schemes like Reactive Response into business-as-usual practice across the industry
Julia Dwyer, Cadent Foundation Director, said: “Supporting people out of fuel poverty is one of the fundamental objectives of the Cadent Foundation and the Reactive Response scheme offers an innovative new approach to tackling a growing problem. This is the first initiative of its kind within the energy industry and its impact on vulnerable customers has already been phenomenal.
“A referral from a Cadent engineer to National Energy Action can be the key to re-establishing a safe and effective heating system in the home of a vulnerable person.
“By helping people to achieve affordable warmth, the Reactive Response scheme is reducing the number of households likely to be in fuel poverty, improving health and wellbeing and consequently, reducing demand on primary health care services. There has also been a significant impact on Cadent frontline staff. By referring a customer for assistance, engineers can leave knowing that the needs are being taken care of, giving them peace of mind and job satisfaction.
“Our own analysis is clearly demonstrating an increasing requirement for this kind of service and so we hope that this initiative will become standard business practice across the entire utility sector, providing a blueprint that all gas and electric distribution networks can replicate to support vulnerable customers.”
Paul Madigan, 54, from Birmingham was helped by the scheme. In December 2021, his boiler failed. He says: ‘When my boiler stopped working, it was a bad time. I didn’t have the money to fix it – it would have cost thousands to repair and I’d lost my Maintenance job because of Covid. I was on Universal Credit. It was very cold and I wasn’t sure how I’d cope, as I really needed it. The Cadent engineer put me on to Reactive Response. I got an assessment within days. The team put in a new boiler and did a neat, tidy job with no mess. I was over the moon to have heat again. I was so grateful to Cadent and National Energy Action.’
About National Energy Action (NEA)
National Energy Action (NEA), the fuel poverty charity, campaigns so everyone can afford to live in a warm and safe home. This is something denied to millions because of poor housing, low incomes, and high bills.
Working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the charity aims to improve the lives of people in fuel poverty. They directly support people with energy and income maximisation advice, and they advocate on issues including improving the energy efficiency of homes.
Partnerships and collaboration have been at the heart of NEA for over 40 years, helping to drive better health and well-being outcomes for people struggling to heat their homes.
About the Cadent Foundation
The Cadent Foundation was established in July 2019 with Cadent committing 1% of annual post tax profits each year to the Foundation. Our aim is to help households find sustainable solutions to fuel poverty and ensure people are safe and warm in their homes. We work with charitable organisations to help households improve their financial wellbeing and become more energy efficient through advice, support and practical measures.
The funds of the Cadent Foundation are administered by Charities Trust (Charity Registration No: 327489) who manage the grant giving and ensure all grants donated by the Cadent Foundation are only used to further charitable purposes for the public benefit.
Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy. We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change. Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency. Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing.
Future of Gas: Cadent supports the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050, backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low-carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. Cadent know people love the controllability of gas and, with its network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which Cadent believes can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come
Cadent manages the national gas emergency service free phone line on behalf of the gas industry – 0800 111 999* Cadent Gas Ltd is owned by a consortium of global investors.
*All calls are recorded and may be monitored.