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The National Grid has unveiled a new £50million financial relief fund aimed at supporting millions of Britons who are grappling with fuel poverty amid astronomical energy bills. Over the past year, household gas and electricity bills have reached unaffordable levels for many households, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the price of wholesale natural gas to record levels. From October, energy regulator Ofgem has raised the price cap on household bills to £2,500 per year, forcing Britons to pay record figures. In light of this crisis, the National Grid has announced a fund will make significant donations to organisations working on the front line over the next two winters.
The company added that this fund would be targeted at helping charities that provide immediate, emergency financial relief to households using pre-payment energy meters and charities that fund energy efficiency measures to lower bills over the long-term.
The scheme will also support charities providing advisory services for households who need help with energy bills, payments and debt, as the number of households in fuel poverty has grown rapidly over the past year.
This fund would be used by beneficiary organisations in a number of different ways, including increasing the number of support staff giving advice on phonelines, providing fuel vouchers and improving the energy efficiency of homes at no cost to householders, for example.
John Pettigrew, Chief Executive of National Grid, said: “We’re under no illusions that this winter will be financially very, very hard for many people and we’re determined to play our part to help ease the financial burden that households will face. Over the next 18 months, we’ll be working to ensure that help is reaching those who need it most.”
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our frontline services are inundated with people struggling to afford their energy bills. In the face of this escalating crisis, it’s more important than ever that people can turn to us for advice on managing costs and keeping out the cold.
“This hugely welcome funding from National Grid will go towards helping us meet rising demand and supporting people through the difficult period ahead.”
Alongside this announcement, the National Grid has pledged to donate £10million to the Fuel Bank Foundation, which provides emergency financial support and advice to households with a prepayment meter that are in fuel crisis and at risk of living without heat, light and power.
Citizens Advice, a popular group that delivers advice across a range of issues including managing energy bills; and Affordable Warmth Solutions, which provides new, free home insulation and other energy efficiency measures to households who don’t qualify for government programmes, will each get £10million.
The company will also donate £1.5million to National Energy Action to work with communities to ensure people can be warm at home, and a further £1million to National Energy Foundation which works to help improve the energy efficiency of homes and offers advice and guidance on lowering energy bills and delivers practical solutions to make homes warmer.
Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of Affordable Warmth Solutions, said: “Many thousands of households are facing a challenging winter and without the support of National Grid and ourselves would be facing a bleak future. In real terms, this money will enable us to support a further 10,000 homes with advice and much-needed tailored energy efficiency measures.”
Matthew Cole, Head of the Fuel Bank Foundation, said: “The generous donation from National Grid will enable Fuel Bank Foundation to help more people who, as a consequence of rising energy bills and the general cost-of-living increase, find themselves at a financial crisis point.
“Fuel Bank first developed the concept of providing help to people who prepay for energy, through a mix of emergency fuel vouchers and simple, easy-to-action advice, in 2015.
“Since then, the charity has helped more than 650,000 people. Without Fuel Bank’s help, households risk living without heat, light and power, which in turn means not having a cooked meal or a hot bath/shower.
“This can have a serious impact on physical and mental health, and sadly, in the worst cases, even lead to death. Fuel vouchers provide respite and breathing space to act on the practical advice.
“Unfortunately, due to the current social and economic circumstances, fuel poverty has never been more prevalent, but thanks to the funding from National Grid we will be able to give families the support they need during these difficult times.”
Dave Evans, CEO of the National Energy Foundation, said: “Into the winter and beyond, National Grid’s donation will enable us to impact over 18,000 households, both helping right now with emergency funding, as well as providing ongoing support to reduce energy bills and make homes warmer for the future. Ultimately, this crisis is all about people, and thanks to National Grid, we will be able to help those who need it the most.”
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