Energy supplier npower have launched a three-month trial of the nation’s first Fuel Bank to help those living in fuel poverty. The scheme has been launched in partnership with The Trussell Trust, National Energy Action and Durham Christian Partnership.
Placed initially in 21 existing food banks, the Fuel Banks will support households most in need of help by giving them funds to pay for gas and electricity alongside emergency food aid. They will help households using prepayment meters, regardless of whether they are npower customers or not, with the fuel bank voucher worth £49 credit, able to be used to top up gas and electricity meters. This will enable households that have run out of energy to get the power back on within a few hours for up to two weeks.
The Fuel Bank has been launched specifically to address the problem of households who ‘self-disconnect’ in order to save money. Research conducted by Citizens Advice found that one in every six homes that use a prepayment meter has self-disconnected, meaning up to 1.62 million people go without electricity or gas each year.
David McAuley, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with npower in creating the nation’s first Fuel Bank. In many cases people coming to food banks can be facing financial hardship that leaves them both hungry and in fuel poverty. By providing npower Fuel Bank vouchers at food banks, we can make sure that people who are most vulnerable are not only given three days’ food, but can turn on the energy supply to cook it and heat their homes too. The Trussell Trust is working hard to create more and more business partnerships like npower Fuel Banks which help people in crisis.”
The trial will run in 21 locations in County Durham, Kingston-upon-Thames and Gloucester, with the ambition to support up to 13,000 households in the first year.