• Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

National Grid creates £50m emergency fund for vulnerable households

ByINVESTOR

Nov 1, 2022

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The chief executive of National Grid has warned of an “exponential increase” in customers seeking help with their energy bills as the company created a £50m emergency support fund.

John Pettigrew said the UK electricity network operator’s fund will be used this winter and next to make donations to bodies providing support for vulnerable households and advice on energy efficiency measures to lower bills long term.

The move comes amid fears that the cost of living crisis and high energy bills will push growing numbers of households into fuel poverty this winter.

National Grid pledged to donate £10m to the Fuel Bank Foundation, which offers emergency financial support and advice to struggling households with a prepayment meter. It will hand £10m to Citizens Advice and £1.5m to National Energy Action.

It will also donate £10m to Affordable Warmth Solutions, which provides home insulation and other energy efficiency measures to households who do not qualify for government programmes, and £1m to the National Energy Foundation, which works to help improve the energy efficiency of homes.

The former prime minister Liz Truss moved to slash all energy bills through her two-year energy price guarantee scheme. This was later cut to six months.

“We were pleased to see the government support, but we think it’s important that we play our part in supporting customers over the course of the winter,” Pettigrew said.

“Charities have said there’s been an exponential increase in the number of people wanting help and advice, so our focus is in those areas.”

The government is examining methods of making the price guarantee more targeted at vulnerable households. Pettigrew said a “social tariff”, which would see subsidised energy given to people in need, “might be something that makes a lot of sense”.

National Grid has launched a scheme to pay households to use energy outside of peak hours. It hopes to take strain off the power grid amid fears over potential power cuts this winter.

Pettigrew said the Grid’s “base case assumption is that there is sufficient generation to meet demand this winter, similarly there are plenty of sources of gas to meet demand”.

Senior energy industry sources said on Monday that the situation going into this winter had improved as recent mild weather helped reduce household energy demand.

Earlier this year National Grid agreed to bring forward a £200m payment to customers generated from its electricity cables to Europe in an effort to “reduce consumer bills”.

Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our frontline services are inundated with people struggling to afford their energy bills. In the face of this escalating crisis, it’s more important than ever that people can turn to us for advice on managing costs and keeping out the cold.”

Jeremy Nesbitt, the managing director of Affordable Warmth Solutions, said the funds provided by National Grid would allow it to dispense advice on energy efficiency to 10,000 homes.

Pettigrew has faced criticism over his above-average £6.5m pay packet, which included a £1.1m pay rise during the energy crisis. “In terms of my remuneration, that’s something for the board of National Grid,” he said.

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