We are pleased to be a signatory of Energy UK’s Winter Commitment to consumers, along with others in the energy industry. Providing support for our most vulnerable customers and our communities has always been at the heart of what we do at British Gas.
Each year we contribute more than any other supplier on helping customers in need of support and our colleagues play a vital part in this. During the COVID-19 pandemic millions of customers reached out to us and we understand that many will be worried about paying their bills this coming winter. As highlighted in the Energy UK Winter Commitments, it’s important that our customers know that we offer additional support in a variety of ways and signpost where they can find this help.
To give an idea of the type of support available, here’s what we did in 2020:
- After COVID-19 hit the UK, to keep prepayment customers on-supply, British Gas issued preloaded top-up cards with emergency credit worth a total of £6.9million. We also exchanged over 100,000 prepayment meters to smart meters to make things easier in lock down
- British Gas contributed £87 million last year to assisting customers on low incomes through the government Warm Home Discount scheme, including £9.6 million via key industry and charity partners.
- British Gas helped over 300,000 customers manage their debt, giving them more time to pay through payment plans and encouraging early meter readings.
- British Gas Energy Trust provided grants worth £1.4 million to individuals with energy debts, including non-British Gas customers.
- There are nearly 3 million customers on British Gas’ Priority Services Register, which receives around 5,000 calls to the dedicated phone line each week.
- British Gas donated £1 million to Carers UK to support carers during the Coronavirus crisis.
- During the first lockdown, 1,700 British Gas employee volunteers delivered 4 million meals as part of its work with Trussell Trust food banks.
- British Gas supported energy efficiency improvements for over 37,000 UK households
We know that the first hurdle to getting help is knowing where to find it. We have multiple ways for customers to contact us, including those with accessible language formats. That includes a dedicated freephone helpline for those in financial hardship. In addition, we partner with a range of charities, so that we can point customers to where they can get independent advice. Visit British Gas’ website to find out more.
British Gas Energy Trust
The British Gas Energy Trust (BGET), which incorporates the Scottish Gas Energy Trust, is an independent Charitable Trust established in 2004 and is funded solely by British Gas. Since the launch of the Trust, over £78 million has been invested in helping over 170,000 people manage their energy costs and household money management. Providing grants go up to £2,000 where exceptional vulnerability is evidenced. To be eligible, individuals must not have a household income of over £16,190 (excluding households with Carers, Disability, 3+ children) and they must have received help from a money advice agency.
Over the last year British Gas Energy Trust provided grants worth £1.4 million to individuals with energy debts including non-British Gas customers, the funded projects also supported vulnerable households identify over £14.1m in missed income and helped them manage over £20m beneficiary debt, with over 24,400 vulnerable households being given money and energy advice.
Priority services register
Customers on our Priority Services Register can receive free gas safety checks, priority support in an emergency, with a local network operator providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of a supply interruption. Customers can also ask us to send communications (such as bills) to someone they have nominated to help with their account.
Warm Home Discount
Applications for the Warm Home Discount open in late summer. Through this government scheme we will apply a £140 credit on energy bills for those who are eligible. You can get a text alert set up via our website, so you know when the next scheme opens.
Debt charity partnerships
We partner with various charitable organisations and on the back of all our bills provide information for customers to seek independent help and advice. For example, we partner with Breathing Space – a Debt Respite initiative. We also receive referrals through a variety of other charity partners including Carers UK.
In April 2020 Centrica donated £1m to its charity partner, Carers UK, to help fund an extended hours service for its helpline as well as other activities the charity undertakes to support carers throughout the year. The Coronavirus pandemic saw a 60% increase in calls and emails to the Carers UK helpline, as well as a 600% increase to advice on the website. In 2021 we have agreed to match all employee fundraising for Carers UK up to an additional £50,000.
British Gas is working with the Trussell Trust food banks to help those in need in our local communities. During the first 2020 lockdown 1,700 British Gas volunteers delivered 2,000 tonnes of food or 4 million meals as part of its work with local food banks. Volunteers continue to work with local Trussell Trust foodbanks depending on their needs.
Contacting British Gas
Freephone numbers for the priority service register (PSR) customers are available on our website. We’ve also partnered with SignVideo to provide free British Sign Language video interpreters from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Our Interpreting Service allows us to communicate easily over the phone with our deaf or hearing-impaired customers. ReciteMe, a Cloud based web accessibility solution that we use allows customers to customise our website in a way that works best for them, this is used by 8000 customers per month on average and helps those who are visually impaired.
Energy efficiency measures
Energy efficiency is an important way to cut carbon emissions, reduce energy bills, tackle fuel poverty and improve the comfort of the nation’s homes. We are proud of our record of delivering through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, mandated by government. We have funded 1 million energy efficiency measures with ECO since 2013.
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