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Fuel banks – what are they and how can they help?

Fuel banks – what are they and how can they help?

If you’ve lost your income due to coronavirus, or your finances have been seriously affected, you might be struggling to pay all of your bills. Schemes such as Fuel Bank® are available to those in need – here’s everything you need to know about it.

Peter Earl
From the Energy team
minute read
posted 7 APRIL 2020

What is Fuel Bank®? 

Fuel Bank® is a collaboration between npower and the Trussell Trust. It makes sure people have enough energy for cooking and heating. It’s aimed at helping customers who have problems with prepayment meters. One of the biggest of these problems is self-disconnection, which is when someone can’t afford to keep their meter topped up. 

Who runs it? 

The Trussell Trust is a charity that aims to end hunger and poverty in the UK. Its largest project is its Foodbank network which provides emergency food, as well as support and financial advice to help get people out of poverty.  
More and more people struggling with limited income are going to food banks to help feed their families. They’re often faced with the choice of heating their home or eating.   
Together with npower, Fuel Bank® is offered as an additional service at Foodbanks, to help those facing a fuel crisis.

How does it work? 

Selected Trussell Trust Foodbank locations around the UK also have Fuel Banks®. These provide fuel vouchers to customers who’ve been referred by a third party because they’re at crisis point. Each voucher has enough money to top up the customer’s prepayment meter for around two weeks – so customers don’t have to choose between eating, and heating and lighting their home. You can only get a Fuel Bank® voucher if you’re in need of food support. 

The process: 

  • Contact Citizens Advice, a social worker, your GP or other services who support people in need. They’ll then refer you by giving you a Foodbank voucher. 
  • Take your Foodbank voucher to your nearest Foodbank to receive your food. If the Foodbank is part of the Fuel Bank® scheme, you can fill out an application to receive fuel vouchers, too. 
  • Your application will be processed. If it’s accepted, you’ll be given fuel vouchers alongside your food from the Foodbank.  

Can Fuel Bank® help me? 

Fuel vouchers are only available for people who’ve been through the Foodbank referral process and have a valid Foodbank Voucher. You don’t have to be an npower customer, but you do have to: 

  • be referred by a third party who has categorised you as someone in urgent - ‘crisis’ - need for food 
  • have a prepayment meter 
  • be classed as eligible for fuel as well as food vouchers 

How can I get support with my fuel costs? 

If you’re having problems topping up your prepayment meter, or paying fuel bills, the first thing to do is contact your energy supplier. They’ll be able to adjust your energy plan, or refer you to any schemes or grants that could help you.

See more on what to do if your prepayment meter top-ups are affected by coronavirus

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