Reactive Response is a new initiative which aims to help people who are faced with having their gas supply disconnected on safety grounds, to stay warm and safe in their homes. Regulations state that engineers are required to disconnect or isolate the supply of gas to an appliance or property in the event of a gas emergency which poses risk to life and property. However, this can leave vulnerable customers unable to cover the costs of repairing or replacing the appliances, exposing them to the danger of living in a cold home, potentially with no heating, hot water or means of cooking.
The Reactive Response scheme offers a solution by providing support for vulnerable customers who do not have the means or capacity to arrange the necessary works. It allows Cadent engineers to refer customers to NEA, who then organise the repair or replacement work (subject to eligibility). This can range from a simple gas pipework repair to the replacement of gas appliances and even the installation of full central heating systems.
One of the those helped by the scheme is Bethany, a single woman in her 50s with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her boiler had been broken for some time, and she had not been able to afford to service or repair it. Reactive Response repaired her boiler, giving her access to heating and hot water for the first time in years. This video highlights how the scheme has helped Bethany and many others like her.
Peter Sumby, Director of Operations, NEA said: “Having an appliance condemned or gas supply disconnected can be devastating, particularly for those who are already struggling to afford heating costs and other essentials. Through this partnership we’ve been able to get people back on track, helping them live in homes that are safe and warm.”
Once the gas supply has been safely reinstated, NEA offers customers comprehensive energy efficiency advice, helping customers to be better able to heat their homes at an affordable cost. They are also supported to access other sources of help such as the Warm Home Discount and Priority Services Register, offered a Benefit Entitlement Check and support to claim any identified benefits for which they are eligible. This can lead to significant income gains as a result of a Reactive Response referral.
Reactive Response was first launched in 2020 when the Cadent Foundation awarded a £612,000 grant to NEA for a one-year pilot project across Cadent’s networks – North West, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England and North London. Based on the huge success of the pilot programme, a further £1.8 million was recently awarded to fund the initiative for another two years.
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. 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.
“We hope that this initiative will one day become standard business practice across the industry, providing a blueprint that all gas and electric distribution networks can replicate to support vulnerable customers.”
Earl Richards, Customer Safeguarding Specialist at Cadent, said: “A referral from a Cadent engineer to NEA can be the key to re-establishing a safe and effective heating system in the home of a vulnerable person. Reaching the 1000 referrals milestone is testament to the passion and commitment of Cadent engineers to always put the customer first. Unfortunately, it also highlights the high level of need and frequency with which vulnerable customers find themselves at risk of living in a cold home, with no access to hot water or cooking facilities following a gas emergency.
“The Reactive Response scheme has not only had a huge benefit for customers, it’s also had a significant impact on Cadent frontline staff. By referring a customer for assistance, they can leave knowing that their needs are being taken care of, giving them peace of mind and job satisfaction.”
The Cadent Foundation is funded by local gas network Cadent, and has been established to support projects large and small that help people living in vulnerable situations and energy poor communities; protect and preserve the natural environment and support in creating a sustainable energy future for all. More information can be found at www.cadentfoundation.com