New YouGov research commissioned by British Gas indicates that four in 10 households will struggle to pay their next energy bill in the wake of Ofgem’s 54 per cent increase, which came into effect on April 1.
British Gas is collaborating with rapper and mental health campaigner, Professor Green, to stop the silence around energy debt, and support people in accessing the financial and practical support available through the British Gas Energy Trust.
This is an independent Charitable Trust established and solely funded by British Gas to alleviate the detrimental impact of energy stress on its customers as well as people with other providers – although it’s important to note that this year’s ‘Individuals and Families fund’ for energy grant applications from customers of other providers is now closed – but advice is still available.
The British Gas Energy Support Fund is still open for British Gas customers.
The Trust helps people in, or at risk of, financial hardship make their energy payments and manage their finances through support, education and sound money management.
With many people across the country already experiencing energy debt, the recent price cap increase coupled with the rising cost of living is set to push millions more households below the poverty line.
British Gas says this is why it has never been more important to raise awareness of the support available for those who need it.
Despite the emotional impact of living with debt, shockingly over a third (35%) of energy bill payers are suffering in silence by keeping their worries from their loved ones.
These internal struggles are also manifesting themselves in increased anxiety (65%), lower self-esteem (18%), insomnia (18%), and have a negative impact on the relationships of those affected (16%).
The research also revealed women are experiencing higher rates of stress than men (73% versus 61%) as a result of struggling with the rising cost of living.
Many of the households living in fuel poverty in the UK could reduce their bills by reaching out to the British Gas Energy Trust.
Many people have already found their way out of energy debt by speaking to one of its dedicated advisors but just 39 per cent of those suffering are aware of the financial support services available.
British Gas Energy Trust Chief Executive, Jessica Taplin, said: “The Trust’s mission is to help alleviate the detrimental impact of poverty – for many of our programs you don’t need to be a British Gas customer to access support and we encourage everyone to seek help during this incredibly difficult time, whether it’s from us or from your own provider.
“The Trust provides direct energy grants and also funds money and energy advice charities across England, Scotland and Wales – these dedicated organizations work within their community to help find a way of improving people’s situations”.
To raise awareness of the support available through the Trust, British Gas has created an emotional film by award winning director, Geej Ower, which sees a single dad silently struggling with the emotional impact of not being able to pay his bills, without confiding in those around him.
Professor Green lends his voice to the poignant film, and shares his own experiences of growing up in Hackney with his grandmother having to regularly make the devastating choice between paying bills and eating a hot meal.
He said: “Reading the Stop the Silence film script was an emotional experience. As many people know, my parents weren’t around growing up and my grandmother raised me on an estate in Hackney.
“Money was tight, and there was always stress about paying our energy bill. Advice and services, like those provided by British Gas Energy Trust, just weren’t available to us and those around me. I urge families and individuals suffering in silence to reach out to British Gas Energy Trust to get the help they so desperately need.”
View the 70-second film on YouTube here.
In addition to raising awareness, British Gas has already donated £6million to the British Gas Energy Trust this year, helping an average of 8,000 customers experiencing debt issues across the UK every week.
Get help or advice from the British Gas Energy Trust here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.