A Wrexham-based debt advice service that was facing closure has been thrown a lifeline thanks to a new partnership with the British Gas Energy Trust.
The existing debt advice service run by Shelter Cymru has been under threat due to funding cuts, but will now but will now be supported by the British Gas Energy Trust as part of a national partnership between British Gas and Shelter in England, Scotland and Wales.
The service was launched in Wrexham by Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, on Friday 7 November.
The Minister said: “I want to ensure everybody in Wales, especially the most vulnerable, have access to the support they need to overcome financial problems and cope with the impact of welfare reform.
“The new partnership is a significant milestone for Shelter Cymru, which will enable them to build upon the successful debt advice service they have provided in the area for many years. This new service will play a vital role in providing trusted advice and preventing homelessness.”
The debt advice service will tackle the root causes of homelessness, money problems and fuel poverty, helping local people to clear their debts and get back on their feet.
The British Gas Energy Trust is a charity funded solely by British Gas, which has donated £75 million to it over the past 10 years to help 120,000 households. The Trust is open to everyone in need, regardless of whether they are British Gas customers.
Established in 2004, the Trust funds over 50 specialist energy debt advisers across the UK, like the Wrexham based service, based in the heart of communities to offer help to those struggling to pay their energy and other household bills.
The debt advisers talk to people individually and confidentially about their personal circumstances to understand their problems and give face-to-face advice.
The Trust can also provide grants to clear energy debts, to purchase energy efficient household appliances like fridges, cookers and washing machines, or to fix or replace a boiler.
Janet Loudon, Head of Operations at Shelter Cymru, said: “Our debt advice service has helped hundreds of people to deal with money problems over the last few years so the prospect of losing it was a real worry.
“We know that getting independent advice can make a huge difference and prevent problems escalating to crisis point. This new funding means that we will be able to build on the valuable service we’ve established and ensure that we are there for people who are struggling with debt and other financial worries.”
British Gas joined forces with Shelter in 2012 in a five-year partnership to work together for better homes for Britain. Their shared ambition is to improve one million homes in the private rented sector.
Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility for British Gas, said: “Last year the British Gas Energy Trust’s advisers in Wales helped 1500 households who were struggling with debt. Working with Shelter Cymru to deliver face-to-face advice in Wrexham will benefit the community and give real support where it is needed most, helping more local people to move on with their lives.”
Debt advice surgeries will held at a range of community venues in and around Wrexham. Call 01978 317911 for more information.
British Gas and Shelter
British Gas and Shelter joined forces in 2012 as part of a five year partnership to help tackle the problem of poor quality private rented homes in Britain. The partnership will tackle five key areas: safety, warmth, landlord advice, renter advice and standards.
British Gas is the UK’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 12 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to one million UK businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Home Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk.
The British Gas Energy Trust (BGET)
The first nationwide trust of its kind in the UK, BGET is funded solely by British Gas, which has donated £75 million to the charity over the past 10 years to help 120,000 people to clear their debts and get back on their feet.
Established in 2004 to help individuals and families facing fuel poverty, the Trust offers support which includes grants to clear energy debts, to purchase energy efficient household appliances like fridges, cookers and washing machines, or to fix or replace a boiler.
The Trust also funds over 50 specialist energy debt advisors across the UK, based in the heart of communities to offer help to those struggling to pay their energy and other household bills. The advisors talk to people individually and confidentially about their personal circumstances to understand their problems and give tailored advice and support.
The Trust is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are British Gas customers. It is governed by a Board of independent Trustees.
In 2013 BGET made nearly 12,000 (11,771) awards, totalling £7.3 million. Over 9,000 awards were made to clear energy debt and over 2,500 awards were for further assistance eg white goods etc. The average grant in 2013 was £618.