- February 2, 2017
- Posted by: Vikki Howells MS
- Category: Latest News
As part of her ongoing campaign to make sure Cynon Valley residents who are in crisis know about the support that is available, Vikki Howells AM is teaming up with leading debt advice charity Christians Against Poverty and energy supplier British Gas to urge local people who are struggling with energy bills to make sure they find out about the expert advice and help that is available.
Christians Against Poverty warn that spiralling personal debt can negatively affect a person’s life causing loss of sleep, straining relationships, poor physical and mental health and even risking loss of their home and livelihood. Seeking help sooner rather than allowing debt problems to develop and escalate is the best way forward, says the charity.
However, new research from British Gas highlights that many people simply don’t know where to turn for help. While two thirds of people said they would speak to family members or their energy company to get help with energy debt, a third of those surveyed said they wouldn’t speak to anyone at all if they were in financial difficulty.
30% of respondents in Wales said they didn’t know how to find out about help.
Vikki Howells AM said:-
“After Christmas, many of us face additional financial pressures and foremost amongst these can be higher energy bills resulting from the cost of keeping our homes warm and cosy.
“There is lots of help out there, so there’s no need to feel alone or to let energy bills build up which can have serious consequences.
“I would strongly advice Cynon Valley residents who are worried about their energy bills to get help and advice, either by calling their energy supplier or seeking help from a debt counselling charity.
Christians Against Poverty offer face-to-face support at home while negotiating with creditors on behalf of their client. The charity helps everyone for free, regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Its helpline can be reached on 0800 328 0006.
In addition to its partnerships with Christians Against Poverty and StepChange, British Gas offers direct help to customers who are having difficulty paying their bills, with interest-free debt repayment plans. In 2016, some 105,000 people were offered assistance in this way.
The supplier also makes referrals to the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) which has invested £85m since its foundation in 2004, helping 175,000 people with debt problems through grants and expert advice. In some cases, BGET will clear a customer’s arrears completely.
Contact BGET on 01733 421 060 or visit www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk for more information.
British Gas advisers will also check to see whether a customer is eligible for grants such as the Warm Home Discount, and offer access to energy-saving measures. And British Gas has registered 1.5m of its customers on the Priority Service Register, which offers additional help for disabled or chronically ill customers and those of pensionable age.
To find out more, call 0800 048 0404.