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Care for our vulnerable customers

Latest Update | 09 December 2014

Latest Ignite investment: a family business tackling fuel poverty

Our energy-focussed impact investment fund, Ignite, aims to help overcome some of society's biggest problems. Read about it's latest investment, The Warm-Age Wood Company, who are helping fuel poor in rural locations.

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Julia Rebholz

Julia Rebholz
Group Sustainability Director & Managing Director

31 October 2014

British Gas Energy Trust: A decade helping people

The British Gas Energy Trust celebrates a decade of helping vulnerable people struggling to pay energy and household bills through financial support and advice. Read our blog to find out more about how the Trust can help those who need it most as well as what it has achieved during its first ten years.

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Christine Tate, Head of CR

Christine Tate, Head of CR

21 October 2014

National Award helps vulnerable community

Chris talks about teaming up with National Energy Action on their Community Action Awards, to help eradicate fuel poverty by rewarding innovative projects and partnerships across Britain that help communities fight fuel poverty and save energy.

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Christine Tate, Head of CR

Christine Tate, Head of CR

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Overview

Providing support to our more vulnerable customers is central to our commitment to treat customers fairly. We define vulnerable customers as those who are unable to safeguard their personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household for reasons of age, health, disability or severe financial insecurity.

The tough economic climate, rising unemployment, upward trends in energy prices and poorly insulated homes mean an increasing number of customers are experiencing severe temporary or long term financial hardship. Helping those who struggle to help themselves is a responsibility for all of us, and as Britain’s largest energy supplier, we are committed to providing support to those customers most in need.

Support for UK vulnerable customers

In the UK, our strategy is to deliver targeted assistance to vulnerable customers to ensure the help they receive is appropriate to their needs. We work directly with customers and third parties to offer advice to customers on managing their energy costs, payment plans and the energy efficiency of their housing.

We work with the Government to develop and deliver mandatory programmes to provide discounts and services to vulnerable customers. A substantial part of our investment in the UK is through the government's Warm Home Discount scheme, which provides vulnerable customers with an annual one-off payment towards their energy bills. We are also committed to delivering on our Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a UK government energy efficiency scheme that requires energy suppliers like British Gas to improve the energy efficiency of domestic properties. Part of the ECO commitment will be to provide measures which improve the ability of low income and vulnerable households (the 'Affordable Warmth Group') to affordably heat their homes.

We also provide financial support to our voluntary initiatives, such as the British Gas Energy Trust, an independent charity which awards grants to customers struggling with their energy bills. We will continue to work closely with partner charities like Shelter, where we have committed to improve the standards of 1m homes over five years.

We measure our support for vulnerable customers in the UK by the total number of households helped through these and our other programmes. See our data centre for all our customer related metrics.

Support for North American vulnerable customers

In North America, we tailor our approach to varying government regulations and eligibility criteria for supporting vulnerable customers in each market. In most North American markets, we do not have a direct relationship with the end user of our energy as either the utility company bills consumers on behalf of energy suppliers such as Direct Energy or we work with brokers, consultants or re-sellers who manage the end-user relationship. This makes it difficult to support vulnerable customers through special tariffs and services. However, Direct Energy continues to guide vulnerable customers to regional support programmes such as our Neighbor-to-Neighbor programme in Texas.

Video

Sam Laidlaw interview

Listen to Sam respond to BITC on fuel poverty and local communities

Vulnerable customers

2011 performance review

Read a strategic update on our vulnerable customer activities in the 2011 CR Performance Review.

Data

Find 2011 progress against vulnerable customer performance indicators in our interactive data centre.

Updates

We aim to publish updates on vulnerable customer activities on this page throughout the year.