Fuel Debt Advice service helps 300 people during first year

In its first year, the Fuel Debt Advice Service has held 300 people in Plymouth, saving £60,000.

In its first year, the Fuel Debt Advice Service has helped 300 people in Plymouth, saving £60,000.

A service which was established to help people struggling with fuel debt and provide advice on more affordable energy has helped 300 people to date.

The Fuel Debt Advice Service is part of Plymouth Energy Community (PEC), a Community Benefit Society owned and run by its’ members. PEC supports the Council’s ambitions for a greener Plymouth, helping to make homes more energy efficient, and also responds to part of the Fairness Commission’s priority of providing more affordable warmth to people in the city.

PEC was set up in June 2013 with the backing of Plymouth City Council and the Fuel Debt Advice Service was launched 10 months ago with funding from British Gas Energy Trust, which initially was set to end in June 2015 but due to its success has been extended to June 2016. Since the Fuel Debt Advice Service was launched there have been:

• 300 referrals from around 40 different organisations based within Devon and Cornwall.
• 159 applications submitted, 81 successful, 60 being processed
• £60,000 of energy debt cleared
• 47 applications pending submission, with a combined debt of over £75k.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Cooperatives, Housing and Community Safety for Plymouth City Council, said: “The Fuel Debt Advice Service is making a genuine difference to people’s lives in Plymouth.

“We are delighted with the success of the service which supports the aims of PEC to reduce fuel poverty in the city and get people a better deal on their energy prices.

“The service compliments PEC’s other functions which include an energy switching service offering energy tariff advice, and the promotion of energy efficiency grants.”

PEC and its sister organisation PEC Renewables, which provides locally-owned renewable energy installations, has won a number of awards including the 2014 UK Social Enterprise ‘Investment Deal of the Year’, 2014 Regen SW Green Energy Award for ‘Best Community Initiative’, and the 2014 Abercrombie Award for ‘Best Green Project’.

Alistair Macpherson, Chief Executive of Plymouth Energy Community, said: “The Fuel Debt Advice Service is one of many services we have developed in response to the Fairness Commission’s recommendation that Plymouth tackles fuel poverty.

“We are grateful to the British Gas Energy Trust for their initial funding and to ensure the service is future-proof we will be using some of the funds raised by the community share offer – making sure as many in the local community can benefit as possible.

“And don’t forget you can still buy shares in our latest community share offer.”

For more information visit www.plymouthenergycommunity.com

• PEC also runs the ‘Energy Champions’ volunteer scheme as part of Our Plymouth. For more information on this and other volunteering opportunities in Plymouth, visit www.ourplymouth.co.uk