British Gas today announced that it is making a new investment of £37 million in support for its vulnerable customers.
The money will be used in two ways:
- A £50 payment for around 340,000 of the company's Essentials discounted tariff customers to help with their winter fuel bills
- An investment of £20 million in the British Gas Energy Trust, an independent charity which helps people who are struggling with household debts
Ian Peters, Managing Director of British Gas Energy, said: "We know that money is very tight for many people in Britain right now, particularly our elderly, poor and disabled customers.
"That's why we promised to hold our Essentials prices throughout the winter - and it's why today we're announcing this additional one-off payment to provide extra help following the recent extremely cold weather.
"We are also making a further donation of £20 million to the British Gas Energy Trust, to bring direct financial help to many more people who are having difficulty with their household debts. We expect the majority of this assistance to be distributed in 2011 and 2012."
Tom Wright, Chairman of the British Gas Energy Trust, said: "The Trust welcomes this excellent news and the difference the extra funding will make to the Trust's ability to help even more people."
Help for Essentials customers
Each customer on British Gas' Essentials social tariff will receive £50 as a credit on their winter bill. Prepayment customers will receive the credit direct to their meter. For a small minority of customers, credit via these routes may not be possible, in which case, the customer will receive the payment by cheque. All Essentials customers will receive a letter by the end of February informing them of the £50 credit to follow.
Today's announcement is just the latest support being made available to British Gas' Essentials customers. The Essentials package has a total value of over £900 per customer and includes: lower prices, free energy efficiency measures and free benefits advice to maximise income.
In the past year alone, British Gas has completed 156,000 insulation installations free of charge, worth £62 million to its customers, and took 160,000 calls on its dedicated free phone line for vulnerable customers.
Essentials customers can call to talk to British Gas about the £50 credit, or any other enquiries they may have, by calling the dedicated freephone number: 0800 048 0202.
British Gas Energy Trust
The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent Charitable Trust established in September 2004, which aims to contribute to the fight against poverty across Great Britain.
Funded solely by British Gas, it makes grants available to help individuals and families meet arrears of energy and other household bills and costs. The Trust also funds voluntary sector organisations to provide money and debt advice services.
The Trust is overseen by a number of independent, unpaid Trustees and is managed on a day-to-day basis by Charis Grants Ltd, an organisation which has significant grant making experience. The Trust has to date awarded over £18 million in grants.
Notes to editors
British Gas has 505,000 Essentials customer accounts, equating to 337,000 households
During the financial year 2009/10 British Gas contributed £58 million through social and discounted tariffs and other social programme support - the biggest contribution made by any energy supplier - and some 42% of the total contributed by all the major suppliers, which is significantly more than British Gas' market share. In 2010/11 this figure will be around £86 million.
British Gas has also provided support in the form of tailored payment plans to more than 400,000 customers who were having difficulty paying their energy bills
This year, more than 1 million customers over the age of 60 (or receiving qualifying welfare benefits) received a free home energy efficiency survey and free energy efficiency products and services
Together with its charity partners, British Gas has helped more than 1 million customers claim benefits to which they were entitled to but were not claiming - unlocking an average of £800 per customer per annum
More information on how to apply for a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust is available from local money advice organisations and on the following websites: http://www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk/ and http://www.charisgrants.com/ or customers can call 0800 107 5793
British Gas Media Relations 0800 107 7015