Please Rotate Your Device

Charity Spending Nearly £1M a Week to Keep People Warm

January 19, 2024

Charity Spending Nearly £1M a Week to Keep People Warm Featured Image

A fuel poverty charity is spending nearly £1 million a week to help people stay warm in their homes, as temperatures across the UK plummet.

Fuel Bank Foundation has been inundated with requests for financial support, with 21,600 people turning to the charity for help in a single week in January – the most it has ever seen.

Fuel Bank provides fuel vouchers to households with a prepayment gas and/or electricity meter when they have run out of money and can’t afford to top it up. In 2023, the charity helped nearly 640,000 people across the UK, an 85% increase on the previous year. This year, the charity is forecasting a further 26% increase.

Matthew Cole, head of Fuel Bank Foundation, said:

Spending nearly £1 million a week on fuel crisis support is a staggering amount of money but serves to highlight the scale of the problem in the UK. People are desperate. This latest cold snap has highlighted just how fragile finances are for millions of households across the UK. A few days of really cold weather can make a real dent in the credit on a meter, with energy demands in the home much higher, due to the heating being on longer.
Matthew Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

There are more than four million homes in the UK with a prepayment gas and/or electricity meter. During the winter, people who prepay for their energy typically pay more than direct debit customers, whose costs are evenly spread throughout the year. With the average energy bill currently around £2,000 a year, prepayment meter users are paying an extra £313 compared to those who pay by direct debit.

Millions of low income and vulnerable people just don’t have the money to keep their meters constantly topped up. Without our support, they face living in Dickensian conditions, with no heat, light or power. It’s extremely sad.
Matthew Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

To provide additional support for prepayment customers this winter, Fuel Bank Foundation has increased the value of its fuel vouchers, from £49 to £89. This will keep the average meter topped up for around ten days, compared to four to five days previously.

The charity said it has been forced to take action to keep people warm due to the Government not providing any additional energy bill support for low income and vulnerable households.

Mr Cole said:

The fuel poverty crisis in the UK isn’t getting any better. If anything, it’s getting worse, which is reflected in the level of support we are currently having to provide. Millions of people are struggling with higher fuel and food bills, higher mortgage and rent payments, and paying off previously accrued debts. Household budgets are at breaking point.
Matthew Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

Households that have a prepayment gas and/or electricity meter fitted can be referred by Fuel Bank Foundation’s network of partners for an emergency fuel voucher if they have run out or are at risk of running out of credit and cannot afford to top it up.

Recognising this, we wanted to do something meaningful to help those who are going to struggle this winter. Increasing the value of our winter fuel vouchers was the obvious choice. This has doubled our costs, but it was necessary to keep people warm.
Matthew Cole, Head of Fuel Bank Foundation

As well as providing emergency fuel vouchers to help get the lights and heating back on, Fuel Bank Foundation also offers practical support and advice, via its nationwide network of 700 referral partners, on how to reduce energy usage and get back on top of energy bills, as well as providing information about accessing extra financial support they may be entitled to.