Twenty years of the British Gas Energy Trust

Samantha Thompson | Posted: January 19, 2024

The British Gas Energy Trust (the Trust), incorporating the Scottish Gas Energy Trust, was set up in 2004 by British Gas as an independent charity to help families and individuals who are struggling with energy debt.

For the past 20 years, the Trust has reached more than 2.2 million* people with energy debt grants, funded money and energy advice services, the BG Post Office Pop-ups and provided online budgeting tools.

One of the largest grant-giving energy Trusts in the UK

Funded solely by British Gas, the Trust has provided consistent money and energy advice for vulnerable households and is one of the largest grant-giving energy trusts in the UK. The Trust's mission is to alleviate the detrimental impact of poverty, with a focus on fuel poverty.

Today, British Gas has announced it will donate £20 million to the British Gas Energy Trust as the organisation marks it’s 20-year anniversary. The energy provider has contributed over £200 million since the launch of the Trust in 2004 and remains the only supplier to support the customers of other energy companies. This additional donation will ensure help is available in the years to come. 

Tackling fuel poverty for 20 years

In January 2004, the average energy bill was £522. Rising wholesale costs even then prompted British Gas to set up the British Gas Energy Trust. And, with the average bill now at £1,928 under Ofgem’s price cap, British Gas want to make sure the Trust can continue to support those most in need.

The Trust’s work was especially critical during the energy crisis. In the last 12 months the Trust has written off £5.2 million worth of energy debts and provided £20.5 million in grants. The families supported are in or at risk of fuel poverty – in addition to this 30% of clients supported are single parent families, 61% are living with a disability and 20% are food bank users.

In 2021, a British Gas Energy Support Fund was set up by the Trust in response to the cost-of-living crisis to specifically support British Gas customers. This fund is open for applications via the British Gas Energy Trust website as well as the Individual and Families Fund which offers grants up to £2,000** to all consumers.

Jessica Taplin, CEO of the British Gas Energy Trust, said:
“Since the Trust was founded 20 years ago, it has made significant difference to the lives of the most financially vulnerable people in communities across Britain.

“The ongoing cost of living crisis will continue to hit the poorest people the hardest and, as an organisation, our ambition is to deliver the help and support needed to break the cycle of energy deprivation and help people avoid the burden of energy debt.

“We are forever grateful for the support we receive from British Gas as their funding makes all our work possible. The £20 million donation will allow us to continue to help people in financial hardship meet their energy needs and improve their money management skills.”

Support from the Trust is growing year on year

Many people are still struggling with the cost of living and need support with their energy bills. In 2022, 29,246 people were supported by the British Gas Energy Trust. In 2023 this number rose to 61,121 – an increase of 108%.

This diagram shows how those people were helped through support, advice services and energy debt relief:

Read the full 2023 impact report

Hear from people the British Gas Energy Trust have already helped

Hear from Victoria and others who’ve shared their experience of energy debt and how the British Gas Energy Trust was able to help.

Victoria’s story

Merseyside-based British Gas customer, Vicky received a grant from the British Gas Energy Support fund last year to clear her energy debts after a relationship breakdown left her in financial difficulty and too ill to work. She initially set up an IVA to pay off all her energy debt but could no longer afford to meet the payments when she was out of work. After filling in the grant application and explaining her circumstances, Vicky received the funds which lifted a huge weight off her shoulders and gave her the motivation to turn her life back around.

Hear more from Victoria and others the British Gas Energy Trust have helped

Help if you’re struggling with energy bills

If you’re struggling with your energy bills, the British Gas Energy Trust can help – no matter who supplies your energy.

The Trust can help you with energy costs and fuel vouchers. They also fund local money and energy charities that can help assess your budget, identify eligible benefits, and improve your home’s energy efficiency for a sustainable future. The Trust works with a range of charities in local communities across Great Britain because everyone’s needs are unique.

But don’t forget to speak with your energy supplier first. Last year, British Gas helped over 300,000 customers manage their energy debt, and they will do everything they can to help if you’re struggling to pay for your energy.

*Figures are based on historical sources, some of which are not audited accounts

**To be eligible, individuals must not have a household income of over £16,190 (excluding households with Carers, Disability, 3+ children) and they must have received help from a money advice agency.