Age UK's income down by almost £19m last year

Income at Age UK fell by about £19m last year, the charity’s latest accounts show, partly because of a large fall in trading activities.

In its accounts for the year to 31 March 2019, Age UK reported a total income of £127.8m, down from £146.5m in the previous 12 months. 

The drop included falls in voluntary income, down from £68.7m to £60.8m, and a large decrease in income from trading activities, from £74.1m to £61.4m.

Legacies fell from £29.5m to £25.6m, with donations also dropping, from £15.4m to £12.4m, according to the accounts.

Net income from trading was at £5.7m, down from £9.9m the previous year.

Total spending was at £129.1m compared with £148.1m the year before, the accounts say.

The 2017/18 accounts set out some of the recent decisions that have led to the fall in trading income, namely those taken in 2015/16 to sell its Aid-Call personal alarms company, exit the energy market and close Age UK Training.

The charity was told by the Charity Commission in 2016 to review its engagement with the energy market because of the "significant risks" associated with the sector.

The commission’s intervention came after newspaper claims that the charity was earning £6m a year from selling a two-year, fixed-rate promotional tariff with E.ON to older people that was £245 more expensive annually than the firm’s cheapest rate in 2015.

Age UK suspended the tariff in February 2016 and has subsequently avoided the energy market.

The accounts for 2017/18 show the charity received two large legacies worth £4.2m that year, which accounts for the fall in legacy income in the latest set of accounts.

A retrospective Gift Aid claim received in 2017/18, the end of a travel insurance agreement with Ageas Insurance and a reduction in income from Disasters Emergency Committee appeals after the end of the East Africa appeal, also affected Age UK’s income in 2018/19.

Despite the fall in income, Age UK had £56.2m available for spending on charitable activity and gave £13.6m in direct funding to local Age UKs.

It also helped 23,049 people through its winter warmth work and 32,171 veterans through its Joining Forces programme.

The charity found that the number of complaints about its fundraising methods dropped from 873 to 263 this year, the latest accounts show.

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