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First ever Fuel Bank opens in Wales

The Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower is today launching the first ever Fuel Bank in Wales. 

Based at Cardiff Foodbank, the scheme gives Foodbank users with pre-payment meters vouchers for gas or electricity, so they do not have to choose between ‘heating and eating’.

Because the scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher will fluctuate between the winter and summer months: from April to the end of October the value will be £30 and this will increase to £49 from 1st November to 31st March.

First launched in April 2015 with the Trussell Trust, National Energy Action (NEA) and Durham Christian Partnership, the npower Fuel Bank™ has so far been trialled in four areas (Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral) and is now being rolled out more widely.

Before making the decision to extend the scheme, npower commissioned NEA, the UK fuel poverty charity, to undertake an evaluation of the scheme. In-depth interviews with a sample of people who had been helped by the Fuel Bank found that many were from households with dependent children, while almost a third said someone in their home suffered from ill health or a condition made worse by the cold. The inability to afford adequate power interrupted ordinary family life which in turn exacerbated conditions such as stress and anxiety*. 

Rebecca, the first recipient of the npower Fuel Bank voucher in Wales, lives with her four children and had to take the difficult decision to leave work as a qualified beauty therapist to support her eldest child.  Rebecca said: “Without the help of the Foodbank and Fuel Bank I would not have had electric for a week and would have struggled to feed my children.  I often have to borrow from my father to help me pay the bills - he has mental health problems and I worry about the extra stress this puts on him. The food and fuel voucher has helped enormously.” 

The scheme is for people with a valid Cardiff Foodbank voucher, who, if eligible to receive the credit, could use it to repay emergency credit and top up their gas and electricity meter. This enables households that have run out of energy to get the power back on within a few hours and keep the lights and heating on for around two weeks.

Cardiff Foodbank was set up in 2009 and between April 2015 and March 2016, gave out 12,078 three-day emergency food supplies to local people in crisis, 4,851 of which were given to children. 31% of people used the Foodbank due to delays in receiving their benefits and 25% were on low incomes. 

Catherine Williams Operational manager of Cardiff Foodbank, said “Whilst we have been able to give people food we have often come across people who say they are unable to cook it.  Being part of Fuelbank will mean we know that not only will people have a warm meal but they will be able to shower and heat their homes this has an enormous benefit it terms of health and wellbeing.”  

Guy Esnouf, npower’s Director of Corporate Responsibility said:

“Our first step was to trial the Fuel Bank in four areas last year. This proved the concept works - getting the right support to the people who need it most. We’re now expanding to ten new areas – including opening Fuel Banks in Wales and Scotland – meaning we can reach thousands more people in crisis.”

Notes to Editors

ENDS –


Notes to editors


Cardiff’s Fuel Bank is located at:


Cardiff Foodbank, City Temple, Lower Cathedral Road, Cardiff


*The Fuel Bank Research can be viewed on the NEA website at: www.nea.org.uk/?p=1523


How the npower Fuel Bank works:


The npower Fuel Bank pilot has been designed to utilise the existing Foodbank referral process.


Step 1


Individuals who are identified as being in crisis by care professionals, such as Citizens Advice Bureaus, GPs, social workers or police, are issued with a Foodbank voucher to redeem at their local Foodbank.


Step 2


When the individual goes to the Foodbank with their voucher, if their household is supplied by npower on a prepayment meter (PPM) for electricity and/or gas, they will receive a top-up voucher. As standard customers will be issued a maximum of three vouchers in 6 months, and not receive more than one voucher within 10 days. This  is checked by Charis Grants who administer the scheme on npower’s behalf prior to the voucher being issued


Step 3


npower will provide a Fuel Bank voucher to the client via text message or email or if the client doesn’t have a phone or email account the voucher will be emailed to the Foodbank within 24 business hours (vouchers are not issued on weekends or bank holidays). If required the Foodbank will then contact the individual via an agreed means to share the voucher.


Step 4


The client then takes this code to any shop with a PayPoint machine where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card at no cost to the customer. The npower Fuel Banks code can only be used for electricity and gas.


Step 5


Once the code has been redeemed, when the individual puts the relevant pre-payment key or card in their meter or meters the money will appear as a credit.


As well as getting a fuel voucher clients will also receive a booklet which provides information about schemes that may be able to provide them with longer term energy support.  We are currently looking to provide additional information for Cardiff Fuel Bank clients about NEST which is a Welsh Government led scheme aimed at targeting fuel poverty.  To find out more about NEST please visit the website:www.nestwales.org.uk/home


For further information please contact:


Zoe Melarkey, npower PR manager, 07795 354 559 Zoe.Melarkey@npower.com


Andy May;  Andy.May@trusselltrust.org


Abby Jitendra: Abby.Jitendra@trusselltrust.org