Voucher scheme is a 'godsend' to fuel poor

Reporter: Jacob Metcalf
Date published: 28 November 2016

OLDHAM's first fuel bank scheme which will give food bank users financial support to pay for gas and electricity launched on Friday morning.

Launched at Oldham Food bank in the town centre by MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams, the scheme gives food bank users with pre-payment meters vouchers for gas or electricity to prevent them from going cold or hungry.

Under the scheme, Oldham Food bank users who use a pre-paid gas and electric meter can receive a voucher which they can use to repay emergency credit and top up their gas and electricity, enabling households that have run out of energy to regain power within a few hours and keep the lights and heating on for around a week.

The scheme was piloted prior to the launch for five weeks and is only available to those who have food bank vouchers and use a pre-paid meter.

As applicants are processed electronically, those who qualify for the funding can receive their vouchers the same day or within 24 hours as the scheme looks to get the vouchers issued as soon as possible.

Those who qualify will receive a physical or electronic voucher sent to their email which can be scanned where they top up their gas or electricity. Security checks mean that the vouchers will only work for the meter they have been issued for.

For those who are struggling with their balances but do not qualify for the voucher the food bank can offer support, advice and refer them to Warm Homes Oldham, an Oldham Council scheme which helps people who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Debbie Abrahams said: "This is an excellent idea for people who are really struggling in Oldham and Saddleworth. It means that people won't have to make the decision between eating and heating."

Andrew Barr, Oldham Food Bank manager, said: "It is for people that are in need, especially at this time of the year.

"During the pilot scheme we had very good feedback. One young lady was absolutely over the moon and said it was a godsend."

For more details visit oldham.foodbank.org.uk or for help with energy bills visit oldham.gov.uk/warm_homes_oldham

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