Foodbank charity Trussell Trust and energy supplier npower have launched a Fuel Bank™ in Scotland to help foodbank users. The scheme, which is based at Glasgow’s South East Foodbank, gives foodbank users prepayment meter vouchers for gas or electricity.
The scheme gives people around two weeks’ worth of energy so the value of the voucher fluctuates between winter and summer months: from April to the end of October the value will be £30 and this increases to £49 from 1 November to 31 March.
The approach has already been trialled by Trussell Trust, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) and Durham Christian Partnership, in four areas of the UK – Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral. It is now being rolled out more widely.
The initiative provides a solution to a pressing problem, but it also highlights the need for a greater impetus to retrofit the UK’s cold, damp and draughty homes and the cost of inaction. Before making the decision to extend the scheme, npower commissioned NEA to undertake an evaluation of the scheme. In-depth interviews with a sample of people who had been helped found that almost a third said someone in their home suffered from ill health or a condition made worse by the cold.