British Gas Energy Trust Invests in 20 New Advice Centres that Unlock Over £16 Million for Those Struggling with Debts
- British Gas and the British Gas Energy Trust will be putting an extra £1m each towards funding 20 new advice charities around the UK to help people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis
- A total of £5m will now be invested by the British Gas Energy Trust in funding local Citizens Advice and other independent charitable money & energy advice centres, that help people with money and energy advice (helping all consumers – not just British Gas customers)
- Currently, these advice centres help over 24,000 consumers struggling with debts and it is expected to rise to 35,000 thanks to the new funding
- An average person visiting these centres received an additional £950 annually – making a huge difference to their chance of staying out of debt longer-term
There are currently 23 charities funded by the British Gas Energy Trust to deliver money and energy support within England, Scotland and Wales (such as Citizens Advice Sunderland, Money Matters Glasgow and Riverside Advice Cardiff) across 16 projects and this additional investment will enable many more.
The funded projects help consumers with a range of support including money advice, access to benefits, help with bill disputes, energy support and applying for grants. Last year the funded projects managed debts for 24,000 people totalling £31 million and gained an additional £16 million in income for those seeking advice, as well as enabling the write off of £7 million worth of debts.
Independent research from the Centre of Sustainable Energy has shown that over three quarters (78%) of those supported through these organisations were able to plan ahead for household bills and other expenses. Over two thirds (68%) reported that the support helped them to access additional income and 72% experienced an improvement in their financial situation since receiving support.
Chris O’Shea, Chief Executive of Centrica, said: “We pride ourselves on being a responsible business and want to help all consumers struggling with the cost of living in any way we can. A big part of that is making sure we have grants and funds for consumers who are really struggling to provide some much-needed relief. And then these advice centres also play a vital role in ensuring people get longer term help which is why we were keen to invest in them via the British Gas Energy Trust.”
Every year the British Gas Energy Trust funds advice and support services for all consumers and provides direct grants to those in or facing fuel poverty. Last year the Trust provided £1.8 million of debt relief, emergency fuel vouchers, and grants to replace boilers, with a further £3.6 million of funding provided to other organisations who offer advice and financial support. Last Autumn the British Gas Energy Support Fund was also created with an additional £6m investment in response to the cost-of-living crisis. Through the fund thousands of British Gas customers have been provided with grants between £250 and £750 to help pay towards their energy bills. Over a third of the recipients are on disability benefit and many are families – 30 per cent are single parents and a quarter have children under 5 years old.
“British Gas Energy Trust’s mission is to help people in or at risk of financial hardship meet their energy costs and manage their energy bills. We know, from the projects we currently fund and from wider insight and reports, that the impacts of high energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis are harsh and far-reaching. So, we took the decision to release £1m in funding to provide further support to people who are struggling, directing our support to projects in those areas which we know from our research and modelling are most in need. We felt it was right to take this step at a time of severe, serious and likely ongoing crisis for the people we serve. And we are deeply grateful to Chris O’Shea and British Gas for £1m of match funding, enabling us to double our efforts and impact at a critical time.” Helen Charlton, British Gas Energy Trust Chair