I’m pleased to present our 2019/20 Accounts and our 2020 Impact Report, reflecting our story so far, our impact and future approach.
The mission of the British Gas Energy Trust is to alleviate the detrimental impact of poverty, helping people in or at risk of financial hardship meet their energy needs and manage their energy costs, through support, education and raising awareness of sound money management. The pages which follow aim to convey a sense of our work, the breadth and depth of our activities and grants programmes across Scotland, England and Wales, and the difference we seek to make to the lives of the people we support.
Publication of this document coincides with the COVID 19 pandemic and its dramatic, unprecedented impact on the UK economy and household finances. Its severe social and economic repercussions, which are now being felt, are expected to be long-lasting, and serve as a harsh reminder of the pressing need for the Trust’s vital support for people struggling to meet their household bills, in particular their energy costs.
We responded to the pandemic with the launch of our COVID response fund, a grants programme which complements our existing programmes, to support money and energy advice projects in areas identified with high need/low advice provision. The fund was timed deliberately to coincide with this Autumn, as the longer-term effects of the pandemic, and winter fuel costs, begin to take hold. The challenges posed by the pandemic show no signs of diminishing, and in all likelihood will increase: the Board remains focussed on an improved understanding of the impact of our work in a sphere where there is so much need, to ensure our support is directed towards those who need it most and is delivered in the most effective way. We have adopted a new strategic framework, included in this document, which reflects this renewed sense of purpose.
There were other changes within the Trust during the period covered by our 2019/20 Accounts: the establishment of a small executive team led by our inspirational new full time CEO Jessica Taplin whom we appointed in January, the tender for a new contract for our outsourced grant administration services to run from April 2020, and the retirement of some Trustees, including my predecessor, with many years’ service to the Trust. I would like to thank them for all their work for the Trust.
Finally, it is important for me to thank our sole funder British Gas, without whom none of the work you see here would be possible. Although regulatory requirements are the original drivers for this work, I have been struck by the common ground between us on issues such as tackling vulnerability, the effects of our interventions, and how those who are struggling to pay might fare in the future net zero energy system. I am hopeful that despite uncertainties around the future funding landscape, we shall be able to continue working together to tackle these important issues.
Helen Charlton, Chair, British Gas Energy Trust, October 2020
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