The Government should create an energy grant fund for those in financial distress

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People across the UK are facing financial hardship and concerned about how they will pay their energy bills. 

The CEO of People’s Energy, the crowdfunded energy firm that has pledged to give 75% of its profits back to its members through an annual rebate, has called for the UK and Scottish Governments and Welsh Assembly to take urgent action to create a grant scheme for people who can’t pay their energy bill.
 
David Pike, who co-founded People’s Energy in 2017 as an alternative to the big six suppliers, is increasingly concerned about the number of calls his firm is receiving from customers in severe financial distress, caused by job losses, business failures and benefits delays linked to coronavirus.
 
David is also predicting that without a grant scheme for those in distress, a number of energy firms will go bust and claims that many energy providers do not currently have the administrative infrastructure in place to support the transfer by OFGEM of customers, which will be required if firms do go into administration. People’s Energy have maintained service levels and are currently able to respond to customer queries across all channels, whilst many energy firms are currently not taking phone calls at all.
 
David Pike, CEO, People’s Energy said:
“There are two major risks that we see escalating in the coming days. Firstly, many residents across the country are in severe financial distress and will be unable to pay their bills, or have to choose between buying fuel or food. The scale of need is one which energy firm led hardship funds cannot fill, so we are asking the government for urgent support in the coming week to provide funds to help those who cannot pay in the form of a grant scheme.
 
“The second issue is that should competitors go out of business due to missed payments by customers, the normal OFGEM process of moving customers over to another supplier may not work. Many firms now do not have the back-office support in place to transition new customers over. This would seriously affect consumers.
 
“The UK Government did bring in some support for customers in distress in March, however support is not being provided to the energy suppliers to deliver on this, so we don’t believe it is sufficiently helpful. Like many other energy firms across the country we believe a grant scheme is the only way to address this issue quickly before things get much worse. Without a grant scheme, people across the country will continue to feel incredibly distressed, energy supply firms will go out of business and ultimately this may cause a domino effect with a series of energy suppliers collapsing; a scenario which would have detrimental effect on the service offered to customers.”