Safety net for pre-pay meter customers

Fuel Bank opens on southside
Fuel Bank opens on southside

The Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower have launched the first ever Fuel Bank in Scotland on the southside.

Based at Glasgow’s South East 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 November 1 to March 31.

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 Banks 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.

Single parent, Clare, in her early 50s lives in a two bedroom flat with her two adult sons, and was one of the first clients of the Glasgow South East Foodbank to receive a fuel voucher. After receiving her voucher, Claire said: “I came into the foodbank and was told I could get immediate help with my fuel too – this has made the world of difference this week and given me that little bit of freedom and breathing space, so I don’t have to think about finding extra cash to top up my meter.”