Disability Energy Support (DES) with water advice


Delivering tailored energy advice and support for disabled people

Our project at a glance

  • GDN partners: Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, SGN, Wales & West Utilities
  • Strategic priority area: Supporting priority vulnerability groups
  • Support target: 700 households per year
  • Duration: April 2022 to May 2024
  • Investment: £240,000 over two years
  • Forecast SROI: £12.48

You listened, treated me with respect, believed me and didn’t rush me. You offered relevant info for the issue I had called for which I also urgently needed but did not dare hope for, due to experience with other local and advice services.

DES beneficiary

Why we’re working together

Life costs more for disabled people. On average, life costs an extra £975 a month if you’re disabled, according to research from Scope.

With the extra costs of heating, equipment and therapies, disabled people are more likely to face financial vulnerability, increased energy costs and fuel poverty. Disabled people also often find it more challenging to access information and support to manage these issues.

We first partnered with disability equality charity Scope in 2020 to deliver tailored and targeted support through our Disability Energy Support (DES) with water advice service. 

Following the success of our initial programme, we’re delighted to have brought together Britain’s other gas network in a new collaborative partnership from April 2022. 

Our expanded programme opens up access to Scope’s independent energy advice and advocacy service to disabled people across England, Scotland and Wales. It also meets the increased demand for this service as a result of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

In creating an accessible route to clear information and support on energy issues, we’re able to help disabled people save money. To date, we’ve saved disabled households an average of £485 by reviewing benefit and grant entitlements.

Project objectives

  • Providing a bespoke and tailored utility advice service for disabled people
  • Promoting the Priority Services Register and helping eligible households to join
  • Raising awareness of carbon monoxide and providing accessible CO alarms if required
  • Developing new online resources for the Scope website to help disabled people stay safe and warm at home

How we’re working together

Trusted referral route for gas engineers nationwide

We’ve established a trusted referral route for engineers from all networks to refer disabled people for independent support to manage their energy and water needs, as well as access other Scope support services.

One-to-one energy advice

When a client contacts the DES helpline, an experienced utility adviser will assess their individual household needs during a one-on-one telephone appointment. Trained advisers provide support with understanding energy and water bills, managing energy and water debt, and accessing benefits and grants. These appointments are also an opportunity for advisers to raise carbon monoxide awareness.  

PSR registration

DES advisers can register disabled households for the energy and water industry PSRs. This helps us, and the electricity networks and water companies, better support our disabled customers through our day-to-day services and in an emergency.

Online energy advice 

We’ve worked with Scope to redevelop its online resources around energy advice. This enables disabled people to self-serve and access trusted information on the website. By the end of March 2023, the ‘Help with energy bills’ page had received 83,733 views and the Priority Services Register page had 15,825 views.

Disabled community CO research

We need to have an up-to-date understanding of disabled peoples’ awareness and attitudes to CO poisoning and associated risks for us to take appropriate action. 

As well as our DES service, we’ve led a collaborative mixed-method three-stage research programme. We worked with Scope and the other gas networks to gain vital insight to inform future projects, partnerships and campaigns.

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woman in a kitchen, sitting in a wheelchair and smiling

How to get involved

Accessing the DES service

Our VCMA network partners can refer eligible clients to the Disability Energy Support (DES) service by applying for energy support on the Scope website

If you’re a disabled person, you can also apply for energy support directly on the Scope website

Becoming a Scope partner

Scope is interested in partnering with organisations wanting a commitment to disability. You can find out more about working with Scope on their website

Scope’s Disability Price Tag research shows the average disabled household faces extra costs of £975 per month compared to non-disabled households. These costs have been exacerbated by the energy crisis. The Disability Energy Support with Water Advice has been a lifeline to thousands of customers. It’s giving essential energy advice, helping reduce costs and having a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

Tim Vanstone

Programme Lead for Energy Services, Scope