Scotland’s first ‘fuel bank’ opens in Glasgow

fuel povertyA “fuel bank” which offers pre-pay meter vouchers to those struggling to afford to light and heat their homes has opened in Glasgow.

The initiative, which gives people who are suffering from food poverty pre-payment meter vouchers for gas or electricity, is available at Glasgow South East Foodbank.

First launched in April 2015 with the Trussell Trust, National Energy Action (NEA) and Durham Christian Partnership, the npower Fuel Bank has previously been trialled in four areas – Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral – and is now being rolled out to ten other locations in the UK.

npower has committed at least £2.25m to the initiative until March 2018 and is opening a total of 10 Fuel Banks in new areas in the first half of 2016.

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 end October the value will be £30 and this will increase to £49 from 1st November to 31st March.

Before making the decision to extend the scheme, npower commissioned NEA, the UK fuel poverty charity, to undertake an evaluation of the scheme.

A survey of 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 made conditions such as stress and anxiety worse.

Jim Robertson, Scotland development officer for Trussell Trust, said: “The partnership between npower, the Trussell Trust and Glasgow South East Foodbank is very good news.

“It could help stop the dreadful choice between feeding your family and heating your home. That’s got to be a step in the right direction for people experiencing a crisis.”

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 support to the people who need it most.”

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