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British Gas leads £150 Million attack on household poverty

Submitted by: BRITISH GAS PLC.

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Nov 19, 2002 – 11:00 PM EST


BRITAIN’S biggest independent initiative to tackle household poverty - an alliance including seven major charities and social housing providers - is launched today.

Nov. 19 /CSRwire/ - The programme, here to HELP, led by British Gas, pulls together previously fragmented efforts to combat household poverty. It will target half a million of Britain’s poorest households and provide benefits of up to £2000 per home 1.

Last year saw a dramatic 11% rise in winter deaths amongst older people with 25,100 people in the UK dying unnecessarily from avoidable winter deaths2.

And four million households in the UK will spend over 10% of their income on keeping their homes warm this winter3.

First to benefit from here to HELP will be communities in London and South East, Kent, North East, South West, Wales and Scotland4.

Households in these areas may be entitled to:

  • Home energy audits
  • Free insulation services (e.g. cavity insulation)
  • Free home security measures (e.g. spy holes, door chains)
  • Fuel discounts
  • Replacement of faulty home equipment (e.g. fridges)
  • Specialist disability services (e.g. ‘talking’ microwaves)
  • Single parent grants and advice (e.g. training grants)
The £150m scheme is targeting older people, those with disabilities and lone parent families. British Gas is working closely with Help the Aged, Scope, Save the Children, the Family Welfare Association, RNIB, Gingerbread, the National Debt Line and social housing providers to implement measures to reduce household poverty.

Minister for Social Exclusion, Barbara Roche said: "It is crucial that the wider issues affecting people living in deprived areas are addressed. Through the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, the Government is committed to reducing social exclusion and here to HELP will be an important and significant element in our battle to combat fuel poverty."

Mark Clare, Managing Director of British Gas explained: "In the 21st Century, it is incredible that there are people dying due to cold related illnesses and suffering as a result of the lack of essentials for life.

"here to HELP is different because it’s bringing together private, publicand voluntary sectors and it is providing an integrated and targetedprogramme to combat household poverty."

Coinciding with the launch of here to HELP, British Gas is publishing a major study - in association with Help the Aged - looking at how well prepared Britain’s elderly are for this winter.

The report ‘Winter Matters’ reveals that Britain’s 12 million over-60s are dreading the onset of winter5 and that their biggest fear is becoming ill.

The here to HELP study, the first in a series examining the root causes of household poverty, also showed among the over-60s that:

  • 4 in 10 worry about being short of money
  • 1 in 4 fear hospital admission
  • 1 in 2 live alone6
  • 1 in 3 are concerned about getting around
  • 1 in 2 fear being burgled
  • 1 in 3 are anxious about keeping their homes warm
  • 1 in 6 go a day without talking to anyone
Launching the new British Gas initiative, Dr Miriam Stoppard said: "British Gas' here to HELP programme will touch the lives of more than a million people over the next three years.

"By teaming up with leading charities and social housing providers a real difference will be made to people’s lives, whether it is providing the elderly with security measures or ensuring large families in inner city estates have insulation fitted for free."

For further information please contact:
Lilas Allen 020 8734 8281
Claire Monaghan 020 8734 8276

High resolution photographs are available from NewsCast at www.Newscast.co.uk or telephone 0207 608 1000.

Notes to editors:

  • 1 The figure of £2000 is an indication of typical benefits/additional income resulting from a package of energy efficiency measures, benefits health check, fuel discounts and products & services from charity partners.
  • 2 Government figures issued by National Statistics: Deaths in 2001; excess winter mortality in 2000-01 and 2001/02. This number can vary from approximately 20,000 to 50,000 people each year.
  • 3 The Government’s UK Fuel Poverty Strategy November 2001.
  • 4 Among the first local organisations to sign on to the scheme are Pendeen and Pengegon from Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership; Glasgow City Council; Home Housing Tyne Region; London Borough of Haringey; London Borough of Merton; Medway; Middlesbrough City Borough Council; Rhonda Cynon Taff; Exeter City Council; Chelmer Housing (Essex); Helena Housing, Merseyside
  • 5 There are 12 million over 60s in Britain. 60% of the Winter Matters research sample said they dread winter.
  • 6 Although the research showed this figure, a 1996 General Household Survey found the number of over 65s who live alone to be 39%.
  • For more information from the charity partners please contact; Siobhan Sheerin - Scope, (0207 619 7100) Sarah Knapp - Help the Aged (0207 3290 1935), Damian Wilson - Save the Children (0207 703 5400), Ciara Smyth - RNIB (0207 388 1266) and Nicky Bellotti, The Family Welfare Association (0207 254 6251).

  • For more information, please contact:

    Ian Hagg British gas
    Phone: 020 8734 8294
    Lilas Allen British gas
    Phone: 020 8 734 8281


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