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.