Autumn Statement: Jeremy Hunt outlines further energy support
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With Britons facing record-breaking energy prices – and forecasts they will only rise higher next year – British Gas Energy Trust is offering a grant to help its customers clear their energy debts. Known as the British Gas Energy Support Fund, it can be stretched to cover debts of up to £1,500.
The new energy price guarantee came into effect on October 1, which increased average household energy bills to £2,500 a year. However, this figure is only due for an increase when the guarantee is replaced with a new cap in April 2023, taking annual average prices up to £3,000 instead.
While this is a few hundred pounds cheaper than what analysts forecast the typical annual energy bills to be at that time (£3,700), it’s an extortionately high price and could see many more fall further into fuel poverty.
Given this, a number of energy providers have been launching and offering customers new schemes to help with rising bills. This includes British Gas, which is offering a support fund worth £18million to help households with energy debt.
British Gas Support Fund
The fund, which was set up in response to the increasing cost of living and rising inflation pressures, is designed to help British Gas customers with an energy debt of between £250 and £1,500.
However, it notes grants over £1,500 will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, and it will only remain open until all the money has been invested.
According to British Gas Energy Trust, the average grant size has roughly been around £550, and over a third of the recipients have been on a disability benefit and many are families. Up to 30 percent of them are single parents and a quarter have children under five years old.
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Who is eligible for the British Gas Support Fund?
To be eligible to access the fund, applicants must be a British Gas customer living in England, Scotland, or Wales, and they must be in or facing fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator. Under this indicator, a household is considered to be in fuel poverty if the following two conditions apply:
- They are living in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below
- When they spend the required amount to heat their home, they are left with a residual income below the official poverty line.
There are three important elements in determining whether a household is fuel-poor, and these include:
- Household income
- Household energy requirements
- Fuel prices
The customer must also have electric and/or gas debt between £250 – £1,500, and be seeking to clear it.
How to apply for the British Gas Support Fund
The grant can be applied for through the British Gas Energy Trust website and applicants must acquire proof of all household income as well as a meter reading.
Once gathered, customers can log in and complete the form. However, the above must be ready to upload – specifically the proof of income – to successfully apply.
British Gas also encourages people to contact their local Money Advice Agency for help before applying for a grant. According to the BG website, if they get advice, it will boost the chances of a successful grant application.
If the application is successful, the person’s energy account will be credited with the grant. The Energy Trust noted that it does not award cash payments.
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