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British Gas invests £2 million in new energy advice centres

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Oilfield Technology,

British Gas has announced that an extra £2 million will be put towards money advice centres funded by the British Gas Energy Trust to get more help to those struggling with living costs. The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charity solely funded by British Gas and, as well as directly helping consumers with grants, it works with and provides funding to other money and energy advice projects around the UK.

There are currently 23 advice centres funded by the British Gas Energy Trust over the UK (such as Citizens Advice Sunderland, Money Matters Glasgow, Riverside Cardiff) and this additional investment will add another 20. The charities help consumers with money advice, access to benefits, help with bill disputes, energy support and help applying for grants. They have managed debts for 24 000 people and have gained an additional £16 million in income for those seeking advice, as well as enabling the write-off of £7 million worth of debts. The extra £2 million in funding will increase this impact with an expected 35 000 people visiting the centres this year.

Independent research from the Centre of Sustainable Energy has shown that over three quarters (78%) of those supported through these organisations were able to plan ahead for household bills and other expenses. Over two thirds (68%) reported that support helped them to access additional income and 72% experienced an improvement in their financial situation since receiving support.

Chris O'Shea, Chief Executive, Centrica said: "We pride ourselves on being a responsible business and want to help consumers struggling with the cost of living in any way we can. A big part of that is making sure we have direct grants and funds for consumers who are really struggling to provide some much-needed immediate relief. The advice centres supported by the British Gas Energy Trust play a vital role in ensuring people get longer term help and this mix of immediate and longer-term assistance is very effective in making sustainable changes. We are very proud of the work done by the British Gas Energy Trust."

Helen Charlton, Chair of the British Gas Energy Trust commented: "The impacts of high energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis are harsh and far-reaching. So, as a charity we took the decision to release £1m in funding for further advice, help and support, funding projects in areas shown by our research and modelling to be most in need. We felt it was right to take this step at a time of severe, serious and likely ongoing crisis for the people we serve. And we are deeply grateful to Chris O’Shea and British Gas for £1m of matched funding, enabling us to double our efforts and impact at this critical time."

Every year the British Gas Energy Trust delivers advice and support services for all consumers and last year provided £1.8 million of debt relief, emergency fuel vouchers, and grants to replace boilers, with a further £3.6 million of funding provided to charities who offer advice and money support.

Since the launch of the Trust in 2004, over £85 million has been invested in helping over 500 000 people manage their energy costs

This year British Gas Energy Support Fund was also created with a £6m investment in response to the cost-of-living crisis. Through the fund thousands of British Gas customers have been provided with grants between £250 and £750 to help pay towards their energy bills. Over a third of the recipients are on disability benefit and many are families – 30% are single parents and a quarter have children under 5 years old.

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