Utilita Energy boss calls for councils to invite residents to help alleviate fuel poverty
Bill Bullen, the CEO of Utilita Energy, has written to every local authority in Great Britain asking them to invite residents due to receive the £150 council tax reduction to donate it, where possible, to National Energy Action (NEA England and Wales) or Energy Action Scotland (EAS) to help the fuel poor.
Mr Bullen has slammed what he calls the UK Government’s poorly targeted cost of living support package, saying low-income households will be forced further into poverty, and will need to choose between heating or eating in colder months. This latest intervention is in support of the dedicated charities that provide direct financial assistance and guidance to fuel poor households.
Specialising in PAYG energy, Utilita Energy supports approximately 2,000 requests for financial assistance every day. In 2021 alone, Utilita supported its customers 730,000 times to the value of £15m in interest free loans that could be repaid in small, affordable increments.
Bill Bullen said: “The Chancellor’s cost of living support package is a broad-brush stroke that will hit millions that don’t need it and leave millions of fuel poor households facing challenges that are just unimaginable for those who are lucky enough to afford the energy they need. For example, where I live in Winchester, many of the houses are in tax bracket band D but their owners do not need financial assistance – this will be the case in many postcodes.
“I have spoken to lots of people who have said they would like to donate their council tax rebate to help the fuel poor, but most said they wouldn’t know how to. Therefore, I am urging all councils across Great Britain to include links to the National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland charities, where donations go direct to fuel poor households.
“We have already spoken to a handful of councils who are very much in support of inviting residents to donate the £150 council tax relief, to those who need it more. If you don’t ask, you don’t get – but we need every council in Great Britain to do this now, before council tax bills go out.
The London Borough of Sutton Council has been the first council to sign up and support Mr Bullen’s request. The London Borough of Sutton has 82,980 residents of which about 7,000 are experiencing fuel poverty today – a number that is set to increase once the latest price rises come in on 1st April.
Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, said: “Far too many households in Scotland are struggling with the energy costs and essential food stuff as the cost of living is rising. The energy to heat their homes is simply unaffordable and many will simply go without. One in three households in Scotland are now identified as being in fuel poverty. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair.
“If you can donate the value of your council tax rebate because you have the means to stay warm and donate it to an organisation like ours, we will make sure that this goes to help people in the most difficult and challenging circumstances. It could save a life.”