National Grid has today launched a £50 million support fund to help alleviate financial distress caused by rising energy costs. Over the next two winters, the fund will make significant donations to organisations working on the front line of the energy crisis.
The fund will be targeted at charities who provide immediate, emergency financial relief to households using pre-payment energy meters; charities who fund energy efficiency measures to lower bills over the long-term; and charities providing advisory services for households who need help with energy bills, payments and debt.
Money from the fund will be used by beneficiary organisations to support people struggling with energy costs by 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.
As part of today’s announcement, National Grid has pledged to donate £10 million 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; £10 million to Citizens Advice, which delivers advice across a range of issues including managing energy bills; £10 million to Affordable Warmth Solutions, which provides new, free home insulation and other energy efficiency measures to households who don’t qualify for government programmes; £1.5 million to National Energy Action to work with communities to ensure people can be warm at home; and £1 million to National Energy Foundation which works to help improve the energy efficiency of homes, offers advice and guidance on lowering energy bills and delivers practical solutions to make homes warmer.
Earlier this month, National Grid Electricity Distribution launched a £2.5 million fund, which is open to grant applications from organisations working to help people in fuel poverty across the Midlands, the South West and Wales.
The remaining £15 million will be distributed to organisations identified by National Grid as providing direct help and support to those who need it most.
The fund builds on financial support National Grid has already provided to charitable organisations over the course of the year, and follows an agreement with Ofgem earlier this year for the early return of £200 million of interconnector revenue to help consumers.
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.”
Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director, 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, 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.”
Adam Scorer, CEO, National Energy Action, said: “Many of those hardest hit by impossible energy bills will need the support of their community to get through the cost-of-living crisis. With the support of National Grid, we will help hundreds of the most marginalised communities to access urgent support and advice, build their own expertise and skills and be better placed to take advantage of the low carbon and smart energy transition."