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Fuel BankTM helps 30,000 people tackle the dilemma between ‘heat or eat’

An initiative which gives people funds to pay for energy alongside emergency food, has now helped over 30,000* people across the UK access over £500,000 worth of energy.

Launched in April 2015, the npower Fuel BankTM aims to remove the stark choice between heating or eating and has now issued around 14,000 vouchers** for foodbank users with prepayment meters, many who have gone without heat or electricity to save money. 

The scheme is a partnership between npower, Durham Christian Partnership, National Energy Action and The Trussell Trust, and now runs in 14 areas and 59 foodbank centres across the country. To date, of the 30,000 people helped, around 18,000 were adults and 12,000 children.

As the scheme aims to give people around two weeks’ worth of energy, the value of the voucher fluctuates between the winter and summer months: from April to the end of October the value is £30 and this increases to £49 from 1st November to 31st March. All households using foodbanks with pre-payment meters can benefit, regardless of whether or not they are npower customers.

David McAuley, Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust said: “Fuel banks have made a big difference to around 30,000 people facing financial crisis who have been able to keep the lights and heating on thanks to the scheme. One mum we helped had a home riddled with rising damp and a child with a serious breathing condition. Another, a grandmother, had waited six weeks for her first pay cheque and had no money for food or electricity.  We’re grateful to have been able to launch this scheme with npower and National Energy Action. Thanks to their support, participating foodbanks will be able to help thousands more access emergency fuel vouchers alongside food parcels this winter.”

David added: “Many more people at risk of foodbank referral could do with more help to stay warm and well fed. We’d like to see Government, businesses and charities redouble their efforts this year and end this scandal.”

Matthew Cole, Head of Policy & Social Energy at npower, said: “Everyday we're helping people who have no hot water and no way to heat their food. The npower Fuel BankTM gets people the immediate help that they need - usually the same day. Every person we have helped during the first 18 months of the scheme, through our local foodbank partners, tells us a unique and personal story that brings them to the Fuel Bank that day and our job is to help provide same day support to get the lights and heating back on.”

 *This is a measure of people helped by the fuel bank since the scheme began, but it is not a measure of unique individuals. Some people were helped more than once.

** This is a measure of households (this could include single and families) helped by the fuel bank since the scheme began, but it is not a measure of unique households. Some households were helped more than once.



Notes to Editors

How the npower Fuel Bank™ works:

The npower Fuel Bank™ 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, 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 has a prepayment meter (PPM) for electricity and/or gas, they will receive a top-up voucher. There is a limit on the number of vouchers a client will be issued, and 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.