Highlighting particular instances where British Gas Energy Trust funded organisations have been able to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
The easiest way for an individual to apply is via the Trust’s online application form.
British Gas Energy Trust provides funding to organisations across England, Wales and Scotland, to enable them to offer specialist fuel debt/money advice services. These impartial and independent services are available free to individuals. Find your nearest funded advice organisation here.
A referral was made by care-worker to the Wiser£money service. Our adviser contacted the client and arranged a home visit. At the initial visit, we talked to the client about our service and we listened to what the client’s goals were and what she would like to achieve while working with us. The client had fallen through the net of other services and was fearful of becoming homeless or being taken into residential care.
Our adviser quickly identified that the client’s accommodation was unsuitable for her needs, she was unable to keep the property warm, she was isolated due to her health issues and the property was unaffordable
It was also apparent very quickly that based on the information provided by the client it would be highly likely that she would be eligible for higher rate PIP and severe disability premium – the client was in receipt of lower rate PIP. The client wanted to make an application for Higher Rate PIP and due to the client’s health needs, we made a case for the PIP assessment to be undertaken in the client’s own home. As a result of the PIP assessment and application, our client was awarded PIP at the highest rate and automatically received the Severe Disability Premium.
The next step was to try and resolve the client’s inadequate housing. The Wiser£money adviser contacted the Council and arranged for the client to be registered on the local housing register in the highest band. The client very quickly secured a Council- Owned bungalow in an accessible location, with gas central heating and a small level garden. The client’s energy bills and housing costs reduced immediately and the property was affordable and much more suitable for the client’s needs.
Our adviser worked with the client to help her build a realistic budget and develop her skills and knowledge to confidently manage her money more effectively. The client was able to plan ahead and not just live ‘hand to mouth’ – she was able to keep the property warm, we helped our client register onto the priority services register and as a result of her increased income, she installed the internet so that she could bank, shop and get the best online deals - this boosted her confidence, helped her regain independence and empowered her to look after her own affairs.
The client had been reliant on carers to push her in a wheelchair to get her out of the house and she only left her house to attend GP and Hospital appointments. The client felt extremely socially isolated, and this in turn was impacting on her mental health. As a result of her increased income, the client was able to rent a mobility scooter which enabled her to participate in group activities and go to the park. Our client described this as feeling like she was finally ‘back in the land of the living’.
Client Outcomes: (outcomes identified and reported by the client)
At our initial meeting, the client explained that she was starting to experience difficulties in managing her finances after leaving the marital home in 2012 due to domestic violence.
The client’s poor mental health made it difficult for her to function effectively if placed under pressure. In challenging circumstances, she quickly became anxious and stressed and found it difficult to concentrate. As a result of these factors, the client had not opened any letters for almost 12 months, and this had led to her being threatened with eviction from her privately rented house. The situation also made it more difficult for the project staff to collect all the necessary information to establish the clients’ financial and overall situation.
The client received a notice to quit from the private landlord as he intended to sell the property. The client completed a homeless application with the council and started to bid on suitable properties.
The Adviser and Mental Health Caseworker worked collaboratively to slowly build a picture and understand the client’s whole situation. The client had worked with another agency in 2012 and set up a Debt Management Plan, the amount she needed to pay monthly to maintain the DMP was unaffordable. The client needed a bespoke service to fully understand her options and resolve her financial difficulties.
The Wiser£money team discussed all of the options available to the client to deal with her debts. Through a combination of charitable grant applications and direct negotiations with creditors, her utility debts were cleared. We also negotiated with a number of creditors to have other debts either reduced or written off. The client was eligible for warm homes discount and we worked with her to make an application. This was successful and led to an award of £140.
During the time the client was working with us, she secured social housing and was able to move into a more affordable property. We supported the client in building a realistic budget and reviewing utility payments. As a result, the client switched water tariff to secure the most affordable deal.
We talked about various strategies to help her to manage her financial affairs and regain control of her personal finances. We worked with her to organise her paperwork into a filing system which enabled her to manage financial documents and correspondence.
The client found it difficult to manage difficult situations and so when bailiffs had previously called at her home, she would hide and pretend she was out. We discussed how these events could be dealt with more effectively. We spoke to the bailiffs on her behalf and registered her as a vulnerable household. When they mistakenly called again she was able to answer the door to them and explain that the debt had been taken back by the creditor.
Prior to the project interventions, she was struggling to cope with day- to -day life.
As a result of beginning to get some control over her life, the client’s self-confidence improved. Before the case was closed, she was speaking positively about going back to work and had walked into her local Tesco to ask for an application form.
Quote from client after working with her:
“I wouldn’t be this far along, in fact I wouldn’t be anywhere with any of it, if it weren’t for your guidance. I’m very grateful. We’re moving on, and I can’t tell you how good it feels.”
Client Outcomes: (outcomes identified and reported by the client)
Mr A from the Wirral contacted the BGET Warm Homes programme after discovering the boiler was broken beyond repair. Mr A has bladder cancer and after coming home from a session of treatment one day the client walked into the house to find it flooded. The boiler upstairs had burst and water was gushing down the stairs. The client lives with his wife and three children and they had a low income and no savings. The radiotherapy treatment for Mr A’s bladder cancer involved a 30 mile round trip 5 times a week which was costing a lot of money in fuel, toll charges and parking. In addition, they had received a large quarterly fuel bill which the client could not afford but he was more concerned with coming to terms with his cancer diagnosis than trying to pay bills.
The client received a home visit from a BGET Warm Homes Advisor who worked on a budget plan with the client, did a Home Energy Check and made an application on behalf of the client to the Npower Energy Fund to help with his fuel debt. An in-house referral was made for a replacement boiler through the Local Energy Advice Partnership’s Echo boiler scheme and LED lightbulbs and energy saving radiator panels were fitted.
Mrs J from Eastham was referred into the BGET Warm Homes Programme by Age UK, as her husband had recently come out of hospital and they were concerned about affording their fuel bills due to him needing to keep warm to recuperate and were interested to find out if switching supplier would be of benefit. Age UK had already worked through a budget plan with the couple so the BGET Warm Homes Advisor carried out a Home Energy Check, making recommendations for saving energy in the home, and referred in-house to the LEAP programme for LED lightbulbs and draughtproofing to be fitted. The couple were taken through a switching comparison exercise which demonstrated that they were already on a good tariff for their requirements and there was minimal benefit for them to switch. The client decided that they were satisfied with their current supplier and tariff and did not switch. Due to the clients circumstances the Advisor recommended the client should be put on the Priority Services Register and did this on their behalf. The client benefitted from the visit with energy saving advice and measures and the reassurance that their current tariff meets their needs.
Mrs LB, a 94 year old vulnerable client “Thank you very much for helping me. I’ve got nobody else to help me with this, thank you so much, you’re a star.” To the advisor who has rung her supplier on multiple occasions to resolve a billing dispute.
Mr P, Birkenhead who has severe mental health issues and no income due to missing an appointment. He received an emergency fuel voucher and information about where to access free hot meals. “Thank you so much for all your help. I cannot survive on no money. Without you I wouldn’t be here now.”
John contacted us by telephone in January after his daughter picked up our leaflet in her GP surgery.
John has been without an income for 2 months as a result of being found fit for work and his Employment and Support Allowance stopped. John has learning difficulties, COPD and anxiety. He has prepayment meters for gas and electric and had been periodically disconnected for several days as he was relying on his (adult) daughter to put credit on for him as he had no money. This was aggravating his COPD. His daughter had also been bringing him meals round when she could, but he was not eating properly. He had tried to access help at the DWP office but had found it overwhelming and had to leave.
• We raised a voucher for emergency credit for both meters.
• A referral was made for a food box from the Foodbank.
• It was identified that if the DWP were supplied with a medical certificates to prove his incapacity for work, and if he appealed against the decision made to stop his benefits he could have benefits reinstated pending the appeal. An email was sent to the GP requesting a medical certificate the same day. This was later collected from the surgery and sent to the DWP.
• An appeal form was completed.
• An application for the Warm Homes Discount was made.
• A referral to the Priority Service Register was made.
• We assisted with a claim for Personal Independence Payment as John’s mobility was quite poor.
• We represented him at appeal, after having obtained medical evidence and prepared a submission for the hearing. Once the appeal was registered (1 week later) we liaised with DWP to re-instate and backdate payments to October.
• £40 emergency credit was obtained for the energy meters the same day as he contacted us so that he had gas and electric whilst we sorted out the benefit issues.
• A Foodbank box was provided.
• From the DWP John initially got a lump sum of £796.40 in arrears and then regular payments of £73.10 per week were made until his appeal was heard.
• We represented him at appeal which was successful and John received a further lump sum of £1026 and then regular weekly payments of £125.55.
• An award of £58 per week was given from Personal Independence Payment.
• John was awarded the Warm Homes Discount later that year (£140)
• John was added to the Priority Service Register.
• He was given low energy light bulbs and a draught excluder for his living room door and some information on how to save energy around his home.
John received one off payments totalling £2002, had food from the Foodbank and had an increase in his annual income of £9544. As a result, he no longer self disconnected his energy, his house was warmer and his COPD was improved. He was also better educated in relation to his energy usage at home.
Mr K was referred to us by a primary care liaison worker from his GP surgery. He had just moved into a flat and was having difficulties with his finances as he had no income. He had been experiencing mental health difficulties on and off for the last couple of years so had been working intermittently but not claiming any benefits when he was too unwell to work. This resulted in him running up debts, although he was unsure of the exact details of the debts.
A credit report was ordered as the client was unsure of his debts. This showed his debts were:
Overall Mr K had £8876 debt written off and £8863 suspended with no action. He was better off by £262.05 per week and a one off payment of £140
Mr A lives alone and is aged 70. He was referred to us from a local Collaborative Care Team (a multi-disciplinary team set up by the Clinical Commissioning Group to work with patients with chronic health conditions who are at high risk of repeated unplanned admission to hospital) as he had multiple debts.
He has long term mental health issues and is in receipt of disability benefits and his state pension. A joint visit was set up to see Mr A (it was not safe to visit alone).
It was established that Mr A had debts with:
A total of £3751of Mr A’s debts were written off and a further £1863 were managed through affordable re-payment arrangements
Mr A and his family were referred to CLS by the specialist Brain Injury Team. Mr A lives with his wife and adult son in a mortgaged property. Mr & Mrs A both work full time but on minimum wage. Their son has considerable health issues, one of which is that he experiences seizures. These seizures are made much worse because of the cold. The house has no heating and the prospect of another cold winter was of great concern to the family.
Mr & Mrs A had had a lot of time off work last Autumn and Winter to care for their son as he had been having a lot of seizures. The prospect of more unpaid leave to do this in the coming few months was a daunting one.
Mr & Mrs A had got into debt some years ago when their son first became unwell as they had been off work a lot. Their son had also been very physically aggressive and smashed a lot of the house up. They had spent what money they had on trying to maintain their house and getting repairs done. This led them to take out a secured loan. They have since got into difficulty paying this and have been to court. They have been paying for many years but the debt does not seem to be reducing and the company are pushing them to make increased payments that they cannot afford. The total debt was around £12,000 on the secured loan and approximately £6,500 on unsecured loans and credit cards.
Mr & Mrs B are living in privately rented accommodation. They have both always worked. In February 2016 Mr B fell at work and broke his knee. He has not been able to work since and this has caused a huge financial strain on the couple. Mr B continues to experience very high pain levels which is still under investigation.Mrs B spoke to her GP about how stressed she and her husband both were and explained why. The GP referred to our Service. They were managing only on Mrs B’s income at the time we met them and although Mr B had made a personal injury claim against his employer he had not applied for any benefits. They had slipped further behind with all bills and already had some existing debts. They had a shortfall of £49.95 per week between their Housing Benefit award and their actual rent and could not pay it.
The following debts needed to be attended to:
All the above debts were managed, setting up payment plans for them all except the gas and electric. An E-on Energy Trust application was made for the gas and electric arrears and a payment of £1183 was awarded to clear the arrears.
New claims for the following benefits were made and successfully awarded:
Mr & Mrs B are now able to manage their finances and meet their weekly outgoings. Their stress levels are much lower and they can concentrate on getting Mr B better.
Mr A is a young man in his twenties. He had a full time job, a fairly small balance on a credit card, an HP finance agreement for a car and numerous other quite normal financial commitments (including a mobile phone contract and gym membership). We received a telephone call from the Discharge Co-ordinator from Northampton General Hospital that Mr A had been admitted to hospital 3 weeks earlier. He was now paralysed from the waist down by a neurological condition and it would not improve. The local authority had also been contacted in respect of finding him accommodation which was accessible for him.
We visited Mr A in hospital and took some initial actions:
During 2 further meetings with Mr A, (during which time he was offered accommodation) we did the following:
This case study demonstrates no-one knows what is around the corner in life. Although his client did not have high debts, they were of great worry to him when he realised he would not be able to maintain them. Getting advice and taking action early meant he did not incur high charges, pay unnecessary interest and most importantly, reduced the stress on him. It also meant he accessed all relevant income and services at an early stage to give him the best possible start to his new life.
Mr F approached the advice centre just to get assistance with applying for the Warm Homes Discount from his energy supplier. However, by discussing his finances more broadly, completing a benefit check and putting together a financial statement, we confirmed that he also needed help in several other areas. He was in water arrears, and was likely to be eligible for reduced water bills in future based on his low household income. We completed applications to the Severn Trent Trust Fund and Big Difference Scheme which were successful. Mr F’s debt of £171 was written off, and his monthly bills were reduced from £30.00 to £3.90 for a period of a year. We also successfully applied for an under-counter fridge freezer for Mr F worth £250 (including delivery and installation) as his had stopped working, which was pushing up his food bills. We made sure he was placed on the Priority Services Registers by his electricity, gas and water suppliers due to his poor health. We advised him about switching tariffs with his current gas and electricity supplier, finding him a fixed-rate tariff that could save him £12 a month on average. We also secured a food parcel for him, to tide him over before his reduced outgoings came into effect. And we got him the £140 Warm Homes Discount, as originally requested.
The client had been made homeless after her husband died. He had left £120,000 of gambling debt and client was responsible half of this amount, £60,000.
The client was forced to sell the family home to pay off the mortgage and reverted to her maiden name and was fortunately able to move in to an Almshouse. She started working again to try to repay the debts and organised a debt management plan and made token payments. The client was unable to maintain working due to heart problems, and so was unable to continue with any debt repayment.
The client’s mental health began to deteriorate and she suffered from severe depression and anxiety. She was unable to sleep properly and was constantly worried about her finances. The GP wrote us a letter to confirm that the client’s health was being directly impacted upon by the stress and worry about her debts. The client was not going out of her house and was very isolated socially. Our relied on home visits as she was unable to get out of her house.
We worked with the client to collect all financial information and understand the whole situation and her goals. We then discussed all of the debt strategies available to her, one of which was bankruptcy. The client was so ashamed about the thought of bankruptcy and could not cope with the thought of becoming bankrupt. The client asked us to work with her to try and get the debt written off.
We aimed to get as much of the debt written off as possible. It took many hours of work over a long period of time but a total of £49,244.38 was written off by creditors. The effect on the client of managing to get most of her debt written off was remarkable.
The budget prepared with the client was realistic and manageable; the client felt empowered to take control of her finances once again. Her feelings of guilt and shame subsided.
Even though she has not got transport, she is now making a life for herself within her local neighbourhood. She started to volunteer at a local charity shop one day a week; she has also set up a monthly learning and memory session for fellow residents of the Almshouses.
A couple of the creditors either didn’t respond to us or refused to write the debts off. However, as a result of the service received the client said that she is able to respond to them if they contact her, something she was unable to do previously.
Quote from client after working with her:
“It's great news that you have managed to get so much of the debt written off. It really is a huge relief. You have done miraculous work for me and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I can't believe the project is being closed down. The service is an absolute Godsend to many people in my position.”
Client Outcomes: (outcomes identified and reported by the client)
About Us |
British Gas Energy Trust is adminsitered on behalf of Trustees by Charis Grants Ltd, trading under the name of Let’s Talk www.lets-talk.online.
British Gas Energy Trust is Registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation no 1179578 ©2015 British Gas Energy Trust. All Rights Reserved.