While many renters live happily in their homes, many others experience poor conditions such as damp and mould or even dangerous standards in gas and electrical safety. And in England alone, a third of privately rented properties fail to meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.
To improve housing conditions in privately rented homes, Shelter and British Gas launched a five year partnership called Better Homes for Britain in 2012.
Since then, we have campaigned to improve the law on behalf of private renters. It’s now mandatory for privately rented homes in Scotland to have carbon monoxide alarms and electrical safety checks. The same has been achieved in England for carbon monoxide alarms and we remain committed to campaigning for these improvements in Wales. We have also worked with Shelter to protect renters from retaliatory evictions which will ensure tenants do not have to fear eviction if they complain about living in substandard properties, while landlords will better understand the importance of keeping their properties in better condition.
Standards have also been raised through activities including delivering gas and electrical safety checks, the installation of energy efficiency measures and raising awareness with tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities.
As a result of the partnership with Shelter, we are helping people get back on their feet and reduce their household debt. The British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) has provided funding to train all of Shelter’s advisers on fuel poverty and energy debt issues, while 15 specialist Shelter BGET advisers have also been established. So far, over 4,200 cases has been referred to BGET for expert advice and around 200 grants have been awarded to clear debt and help people buy energy efficient white goods to reduce ongoing energy costs.
Our people have united behind the partnership. Following the success of ‘British Gas Treks Britain’ in 2014, we created another series of sponsored walking, running and cycling events in 2015. In total, 13,200 miles were covered by those taking part last year raising £426,890 for Shelter. This has contributed to us surpassing our £1 million employee fundraising target for Shelter, raising more than £1,030,000.
Hear from Shelter’s Chief Executive, Robb Campbell, about the difference the partnership is making to people we help.