Posted by British Gas in Charity
Ian Peters, Managing Director of Residential Energy at British Gas, reacts to British Gas winning the Third Sector Business of the Year award:
I am delighted that British Gas has won the Third Sector Business of the Year award in recognition of our charity partnerships, our efforts to support our customers who are most in need, and our work in the communities that we serve.
We’re very proud of our achievements in this field. Our people have raised millions of pounds for Great Ormond Street hospital, and we’re improving living standards in a million homes with the housing charity Shelter. Our sites around Britain also have important partnerships with their local charities.
British Gas academies are training thousands of young people – including those who have had the most difficulty finding work – making us one of Britain’s largest training providers. Our Generation Green education programme has helped more than 13,000 schools provide lessons for five to 14 year olds on sustainable energy.
Perhaps most importantly, we give help to our customers who need it. 500,000 of them qualify for the Warm Home Discount – a £130 credit on an annual electricity bill. Half of this group is a government obligation, but the rest is discretionary; we have the widest eligibility criteria for this payment of any energy company.
Our independent charity – The British Gas Energy Trust – helps households that are struggling with their bills; we’ve invested £44 million to date, with more to come. We also have a policy of never disconnecting a customer for being in debt – we help them stay warm, remain connected to our supply, and let them repay at a rate that’s right for their particular circumstances. Overall, we spend more helping vulnerable people than any organisation in Britain apart from the government.
Some express surprise that we’re working with our customers to help them reduce consumption of our core product - gas. As a result our customers have cut their gas use by 20% in the last 5 years on average, some by even more. But with rising energy prices (around 85% of a bill is outside of the control of the energy company), we have to act to help customers control their bills. So whilst prices have gone up by 69% since early 2008, the average bill has risen by 4% per year, roughly in line with inflation.
We’ve improved the energy efficiency of entire communities where we work and operate, saving millions of pounds of energy; our people are also investing time and expertise into those communities, giving help where people need it most. In one area we helped save a much loved swimming pool from closure.
British Gas is also becoming a better place to work; we’ve spent millions of pounds on training our people in the last 5 years. And we’re investing in the best technology to facilitate the service they provide. Engaged, trained, empowered and committed people are happier, and deliver better service. This wins us more customers, and saves us money in the long run. It’s a virtuous circle.
We’re going way beyond the traditional remit of an energy company, making a real difference to people’s lives. We don’t do what we do to win awards but we’re honoured that our efforts have been recognised. This award is for everyone in British Gas who donates their time, energy, expertise and money to our many excellent projects. I thank them all.