By Mark Belmega
Director of Customer Strategy
This week we published Our Social Impact
- a document which outlines our ambitions over the next decade to make life easier, fairer and greener for the communities in which we work, our customers and our colleagues.
I believe this report marks a step-change in Cadent’s, and the wider utility sector’s, approach to the social impact of our operations, and I am proud that we are committing to some very ambitious goals. It is my hope that by adopting those goals we will make millions of lives better across the areas we serve.
Why this is so important to Cadent
Ahead of the launch of this report, I have occasionally stopped to think: ‘Why is this so important to Cadent?
’. Cadent is ultimately a gas distribution network, after all, our job is to keep the gas flowing so people can get on with their lives.
To most people, an interaction with Cadent comes at a time of disruption, and we succeed when our customers stop thinking about us.
It would be easy to conclude that getting involved in wider ambitions around improving the lives of those who work for and with us, and those who rely on us, is secondary, or not that important. That we should focus on running the gas network and leave wider social goals to others.
It would be easy to conclude that. But it would be entirely wrong to do so.
Cadent, and the wider utility network sector, is in an incredibly privileged position. Our scale and operating model gives us financial stability, and we are lucky to employ thousands of brilliant engineers and support staff from across the United Kingdom.
That stability and scale gives us not just the opportunity to do more, but I believe it gives us the moral imperative to do so. If Cadent and the wider utilities industry doesn’t, then who will?
Easier warmth, fairer opportunities, greener society
The document explains our approach to becoming a force for good, structured around three themes – easier warmth, fairer opportunities and greener society. I would encourage everyone to read it and see how you could contribute, but I want to pick out a couple of ambitions that I am especially proud of.
First, fuel poverty
. I don’t remember the last day when the topic of fuel poverty didn’t come to mind – be that when working on Cadent’s customer strategy, talking to colleagues around the business who are concerned what the first bill after the price cap increase will look like or every time I turn on the radio or television.
Fuel poverty is becoming one of the issues of our generation, and is only likely to become more of a concern in the months ahead.
The utility sector cannot fix fuel poverty alone, of course. But we are in a unique position to do more.
That is why we have committed that, by 2026, we will have reached more than one million people across our network area with interventions to help reduce the cost of their home heating and / or maximise their income.
We are doing this whilst remaining focussed on how we play a leading role in supporting a cost-effective transition to a hydrogen fuelled net zero. I couldn’t be more proud of that.
Second, skills and training
. Our network ranges from Buckingham Palace and the centre of Government administration in Whitehall and Westminster to some of the poorest and most deprived parts of England.
Our ambition for Cadent is to be a place that helps people of all backgrounds, through training, upskilling and the potential for well-paid, secure employment.
That’s why we are committing to, by 2030, inspiring and supporting 100,000 people from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds to gain access to career opportunities in the energy sector.
A major plank of that ambition will be delivered through our new hydrogen skills academy, meaning Cadent will be at the forefront of delivering green skills and jobs in the years ahead. That is another example of the difference we can, and will, make.
Ultimately, I believe that by launching Our Social Impact
this week, we have laid down a marker, both for ourselves and for the utilities industry more widely.
For Cadent, our challenge is now delivering against the commitments we are making.
I don’t want us to be talking for long about an ambition to help one million people reduce their energy bills in the future. I want us to be talking about how we took that ambition and actually went out there and made a difference. I want to see customers we’ve helped and I want to meet people we’ve helped into rewarding energy careers.
For the wider utility industry, my request is a simple one: work with us. I am very excited about Cadent’s Social Impact ambitions. But working together, we could collectively do so much more. We have a chance to improve millions of lives in the years ahead. Let’s do it together.