The British Gas Energy Trust has spent more than £78 million helping those in need with their energy bills over the last decade. An independent study found that for every £1 donated by the Trust, the benefit to society was worth more than £2.
The British Gas Energy Trust has spent more than £78 million helping households across Britain which need help with their energy bills over the last 10 years, according to a new report published today (September 16th).
The Trust is an independent charity, set up and funded by British Gas since 2004 to help households finding it difficult to pay their gas and electricity bills, whether or not they are British Gas customers. It puts people in touch with expert debt advisers, and in some cases clears households’ energy debts completely.
Research by the consultancy Oxford Economics has found the Trust has helped around 150,000 people in need across Britain.
Its study looks into the economic benefit of the charity and calculates grants, debt advice and programmes to tackle fuel poverty have saved the NHS and government more than £41 million.
Having an impact across Britain
People who receive the charity’s grants typically live in the most deprived areas of the country, where 60 per cent depend on benefits for their income.
The independent research found for every £1 donated by the Trust, the positive impact on society was more than double - with people and communities benefiting by £2.10. This means Britain has benefited by more than £120 million.
The social benefit arises when grants have cleared households’ energy debt, and through longer-term programmes to address fuel poverty in communities. In turn, these factors have improved people’s health and living conditions – bringing a financial benefit to the NHS, government and local authorities, too.
The report estimates the NHS saved almost £12 million, as people who received grants were relieved of the stress of debt. As their mental and physical health improved, they needed fewer medical appointments, prescriptions and treatment.
In a survey for today’s report, 90 per cent of people said receiving a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust had made a positive difference to their mental health, while 65 per cent said it helped their physical health.
Oxford Economics’ research found 65 per cent of people who had received a grant live in rented accommodation. Grants have reduced the number of broken tenancies as people helped by the Trust have been able to pay their rent, saving councils an estimated £25 million in legal procedures and maintenance costs. One in seven people said they no longer lived in fear of eviction or not being able to pay their landlord.
The Trust’s work has also helped people gain employment: their career prospects improved once their debt was cleared. The study estimates that saved the Department for Work and Pensions £2.8 million in welfare benefits.
Among those who had been unemployed, around a third said receiving a grant from the Trust helped them get a part-time job, while a quarter secured full-time employment. A similar number of those surveyed also said they were now more productive in their job.
Making a difference nationwide
Since 2010 the British Gas Energy Trust has funded energy debt advisers to work in community advice centres, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, or at the housing charity, Shelter.
Analysis shows that for every £1 donated via such grants to support organisations, the benefit to society was even higher - at £5.50.
Last year, 50 energy advisers helped over 14,500 households and cleared £5.2 million of energy debt. 7,000 people were given energy efficiency advice to help them take control of their gas and electricity usage.
The charity also helps people in emergencies and has provided £10 million through Further Assistance Payments to more than 20,000 people. This emergency funding has paid for funeral expenses, clearing debt on other utility bills, and to replace faulty or inefficient white goods, such as boilers or fridges.
Imelda Redmond CBE, Chair of the British Gas Energy Trust, said: “Over the last decade, the British Gas Energy Trust has helped thousands of people across Britain get back on their feet after they’ve been in debt.
“The charity’s grants, energy efficiency advice and initiatives to tackle fuel poverty have gone a long way to help improve people’s lives and have benefited the communities they live in.”
Bryan Halliday, Director of Sustainability at British Gas, commented: “Today’s report makes clear the huge long-term contribution made by the British Gas Energy Trust to improving lives.
“We’re committed to helping households across Britain who are facing difficulties paying their fuel bills and there are many ways we can support people. I’d urge people to get in touch with the British Gas Energy Trust if they need help or to contact their energy supplier.”
Visit www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk or call 01733 421060 for more information about the British Gas Energy Trust and to find out whether you are eligible for help from the Trust.