What Are Energy Debt Relief Grants?
The Trust runs a grant scheme for both British Gas customers and customers of other energy suppliers to pay off electricity and gas bill debts.
The grants are designed to pay off energy debt for individuals and families who have sought money advice to better manage their finances and are confident they can pay their bills going forward.
Since the grant portal opened in July this year, 610 grants have been awarded to 428 applicants totalling £321,569.
“I am absolutely delighted for your help, it means so much to us as a family. I can assure you it will be paid regularly in future. Thank you very much to all who made that decision” (quote from grantee)
Who has been helped by the grants?
Anyone can find themselves in energy debt, the Trust helps customers of British Gas and of other suppliers.
Here are just a couple of stories from people who’ve successfully applied for help.
19 years old, care leaver living in a local authority property, on basic Universal Credit but due to her age she is on the lower amount and has deductions taken out, leaving her with £44.91pw.
Awarded an energy grant awarded for £1,368.49
The applicant didn’t have any family support financially and is unable to work due to the impending birth of her first child, there was also no financial support from the child’s father. The applicant moved to her home when she was 17 and due to her financial inexperience, was unaware of the bills she had to pay.
As a result of this the applicant accrued arrears causing her a lot of stress and anxiety, when she applied she was fearful that her situation would get worse when her baby was born. The Covid-19 pandemic limited the support she could access, but she is now receiving help from Norwich City Council and has a care leaver support worker who is helping her to budget effectively. The applicant is in fuel poverty and due to her very low income is unable to clear her energy arrears, however her financial statement demonstrates that she can maintain her ongoing charges with careful budgeting.
49 years old, domestic and financial abuse survivor, lives in a local authority property with a non-dependent child, receives ESA, standard rate PIP for daily living needs, enhanced PIP for mobility and her non-dependent makes a contribution.
An energy grant was awarded for £1,278.01
The applicant had been a victim of domestic and financial abuse for a number of years, this resulted in borrowing money off family and friends to survive; the ex-partner was sent to prison for a previous assault on the applicant, however, when they were released the abuse quickly started again. Physical violence and threats against the client were made for money, the applicant suffered a severe assault earlier this year which left them with broken bones in her leg and face. The ex-partner was in custody and awaiting a trial at the time of the application. The client suffers with mental health problems following the abuse, this has recently deteriorated further as she is worried about energy arrear and debt. The applicant has received comprehensive money advice from Kirklees Council Money Advice Team, and her financial statement shows the ability to maintain her ongoing charges without the arrears, but she is in fuel poverty.
Making a difference
Once an applicant has taken the step of seeking money advice, they are often in a position where clearing an energy debt will make a huge difference to that individual or families ability to manage their energy costs and other debts in the future – the grant helps re-set their finances helping them meet their energy bills in future.
The British Gas Energy Trust grant assessment team, often hear back from applicants who have received grants who want to share the positive difference the grant has made:
I noticed this morning my gas bill was paid, it is such a weight off my mind and the family. I’d just like to say a big thank you to you all, you don’t know how much this is appreciated, in future it will not happen.
Thank you so much you don’t understand the pressure this has took off me thank you so much.