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Fuel Bank Foundation reaches ‘bittersweet’ five year milestone

December 3, 2020

Fuel Bank Foundation has reached its five-year milestone. Launched in 2015, Fuel Bank has helped 300,000 people and provided more than £6million of funding to support vulnerable families and individuals unable to pay for fuel.

The initiative was originally set up and funded by energy company npower to help customers of all energy suppliers struggling to top up their prepayment meters, leaving them at risk of self-disconnection. In 2017, Fuel Bank became a fully independent charity, enabling it to broaden its reach by working with a wider range of partners, making support available to more people.

The Fuel Bank scheme works by providing a £49* fuel voucher to top up prepayment meters. On average, this will keep the lights and heating on in a home for up to two weeks, providing some respite and, crucially, time to seek longer-term help and assistance.

The first Fuel Bank centres were opened in County Durham, Kingston-upon-Thames and Gloucester and today the charity operates more than 140 centres across the country, working in partnership with advice agencies and food bank charities, including The Trussell Trust and Feeding Britain.

Research 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.

The Fuel Bank was initially set up as a pilot scheme with an ambition to help 13,000 people within the first year. However, we quickly realised the scale of fuel poverty was far more widespread and there was significant demand for Fuel Bank’s services. The number of people seeking help from fuel and food banks in the UK has risen significantly in the last few years, and increasingly so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuel Bank Foundation is as relevant today as it has ever been. Thanks to the support of our partners and stakeholders, we are continuing to expand our network of Fuel Banks across England, Scotland and Wales to provide help and support where it is needed most. I’m proud of what we have achieved to date but it’s somewhat bittersweet to be celebrating the charity’s fifth anniversary because it means that today, families continue to face the situation of living without heat, light and hot water when they run out of money to top up.
Matthew Cole, Chair of Trustees - Fuel Bank Foundation

* Fuel vouchers are £49 in winter months and £30 from 1st April to 31st October