Northern Gas Networks, the North of England’s gas distributor, supported a national day to raise awareness of the plight of those struggling to heat their homes affordably.
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day took place on 28 March and is run by charity National Energy Action (NEA).
Fuel poverty is a serious problem in the North of England, with 24% of households estimated to spend more than 10% of their income on heating.
To mark the day Northern Gas Networks has announced that it has issued its 1000th assisted connection voucher for the year 2013 / 2014. The voucher either partly or completely covers the cost of a new gas connection to help those who qualify to access more affordable energy solutions.
Over the last 12 months Northern Gas Networks has gone even further to tackle fuel poverty in the poorest communities where it operates and help to create warm and comfortable homes. The gas distributor has:
Continued its long-running partnership with not-for-profit organisation Community Energy Solutions (CES) which helps households access affordable heating solutions – such as insulation and central heating – and energy advice. Since the partnership began in 2009 Northern Gas Networks has connected around 5,500 off gas, fuel poor households to the network free of charge.
Run an annual hardship fund to help customers who are struggling to pay their bills.
Funded a benefits health check scheme to ensure customers aren’t missing out on vital financial assistance from the government
In partnership with social landlord Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing and CES, connected more than 60 homes in Croftlands, Huddersfield, to the gas mains for the first time. The landlord has subsequently installed new heating systems in all these properties.
Working with social landlords and local authorities to explore alternative energy solutions for fuel poor customers in an effort to reduce tenants’ bills, and support the UK’s graduation to a low carbon economy.
Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy, Northern Gas Networks, said: “Our region has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country and lifting our customers out of fuel poverty and helping thousands of people stay warm for less is a top priority for our business.”
He continues: “National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is a really important way to recognise the problem of fuel poverty and the solutions available to help people keep warm in their homes. We would urge anyone worried about meeting their energy costs to contact the independent Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.’’
Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA said “Our charity knows all too well the horrifying reality of the current ‘heat or eat’ debate and we welcome the support of Northern Gas Networks to help tackle this problem in the north of England. It is vital that anyone working with vulnerable and low-income householders is able to identify and assist those who may be in fuel poverty, and we have launched a new version of our popular Fuel Poverty Action Guide to support them through this process and ensure that help reaches those most in need.’’
As part of Fuel Poor Awareness Day activities, Northern Gas Networks is encouraging more than 2000 employees based across the North of England, to support local food banks by purchasing extra items in their next supermarket shop, to help those living on the poverty line.