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EDF Energy to fund new Energy Debt Advice service to help customers with household debts

15 March 2011

EDF Energy, one of Britain’s leading energy companies, has today announced a new nationwide partnership with Citizens Advice, the largest providers of independent debt advice in the UK.

The energy company will fund the Energy Debt Advice service, which will offer its customers free access to independent advice on how to deal with household debts through Citizens Advice. Help will be tailored to suit each individual’s needs, ranging from providing general information to carrying out detailed casework to assist the customer in resolving their financial issues.

Customers who wish to use the service will find the free phone number advertised on their EDF Energy bills and letters. The service will be completely confidential and independent of EDF Energy. It has been designed to take a holistic approach to each customer’s financial situation, as the combined experience of both EDF Energy and Citizens Advice shows that those struggling with energy bills often have other household debts.

EDF Energy will fund the staffing of the Energy Debt Advice service contact centre, including two debt caseworkers, one supervisor/trainer, a part-time administration assistant and a team of ten full-time equivalent volunteers,. For the first year, the project will include a part-time Energy Development worker in the Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau to continue the successful EDF Energy Devon and Cornwall fuel poverty partnership. It is estimated that around 10,000 households a year have benefited from this placement alone.

The sponsorship will also fund a part-time specialist fuel debt adviser in the Citizens Advice’s national specialist support team to train and support frontline workers in the network of bureaux across the country on fuel debt issues so they can support EDF Energy customers more effectively nationwide.

Martin Lawrence, Managing Director, Energy Sourcing and Customer Supply, EDF Energy, said:

“EDF Energy has worked with Citizens Advice for a number of years, beginning with funding the first energy advice development post at the Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau. We are delighted to develop this successful relationship further by financing the Energy Debt Advice service and the new positions it requires, so we can offer our customers direct support from the organisation.

“EDF Energy has a well-established history of helping those in need when it comes to paying their energy bills and has gone beyond regulatory obligations to support customers struggling to pay energy bills and to keep warm.

“We understand that issues with debt can be extremely stressful but we know we have found the right partner with Citizens Advice to help people having problems with their household bills, particularly those in fuel poverty.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice (England & Wales), said:

“Around 100,000 people sought advice from Citizens Advice on energy debts last year, showing that this is a significant cause of concern. Against the context of rising utility prices and some exceptionally cold temperatures to contend with vulnerable customers on low incomes need all the help they can get to ensure they aren’t forced to choose between heating their homes or getting into arrears so we are delighted EDF Energy are funding this service.”

The Citizens Advice partnership is part of EDF Energy’s ongoing commitment to help its customers with their energy bills,  as demonstrated in our ‘Sustainability Commitments’*, one of the biggest packages of social and environmental initiatives announced by any UK energy company. Overall, EDF Energy will be spending £27 million over 2011/12 to support its most-in-need and was the only major supplier to announce a price freeze on all our standard tariffs over winter.

There are currently over 165,000 customers continuing to benefit from EDF Energy’s discounted Energy Assist tariff for vulnerable customers. The company has also donated £17m to the industry’s first independent trust fund, the EDF Energy Trust Fund, making over 20,000 awards to customers in serious household debt since its inception. This already includes the sponsorship of nine Citizens Advice Bureaux via the fund. As a result, the company has exceeded its commitment to continue to donate at least £1.5 Million a year to the Trust Fund until 2012.

*For more information on Our Sustainability Commitments, please visit: http://www.edfenergy.com/sustainability/our-commitments/our-sustainability-commitments/index.shtml

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
  3. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 7.1 million problems from April 2009 to March 2010, an 18% increase on the previous year. For full 2009/2010 service statistics see: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20100517
  4. Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable. (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
  5. Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,300 service outlets across England and Wales.

Other ways EDF Energy is supporting its most in need customers

EDF Energy has a dedicated team of Priority Service Specialists who deal with vulnerable customers, providing specialist advice and an individual account management service. Team members also visit customers at home if necessary.

The company is leading the way with the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) by having the first schemes to be approved in England and Wales. During the lifetime of the programme, we expect to help approximately 22,000 low-income residents across Great Britain with a focus to date on areas such as the North East, North West, South West, Yorkshire, South Wales and London.

All of EDF Energy's CESP delivery provides significant and permanent benefits to vulnerable consumers struggling to pay their fuel bills, while also reducing their carbon footprint though insulation, replacement windows, low carbon heating such as air source heat pumps and microgeneration. In addition to CESP, EDF Energy is also working well towards achievement of the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). A significant element of this includes free loft and cavity wall insulation to customers who are either in receipt of certain benefits or those aged 70 years and over.

In 2001, EDF Energy established the London Warm Zone which is part of Warm Zones Community Interest Company. This Community programme tackles the challenges of fuel poverty and climate change through a systematic door to door assessment process, to identify and help the most vulnerable people in society.  Following its initial success, the scheme has now been rolled out across 24 London Boroughs. Since the scheme began, we have carried out 190,000 assessments and helped nearly 40,000 homes, leading to an investment of over £22m, plus £8m of benefits that have been claimed by residents through the London Warm Zone income maximization service.

EDF Energy

EDF Energyis one of the UK’s largest energy companies and the largest producer of low-carbon electricity, producing around one-fifth of the nation's electricity from its nuclear, coal and gas power stations, as well as combined heat and power plants and wind farms. The company supplies gas and electricity tomore than 5.5 million business and residential customers and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in the UK.

EDF Energy’s safe and secure operation of its eight existing nuclear power stations at sites across the country makes it the UK’s largestgenerator of low carbon electricity. EDF Energyisalso leading the UK's nuclear renaissanceand has published plans to build four new nuclearplants, subject to the right investment framework. These new plants could generate enough low carbon electricity for about 40% of Britain’s homes. They would make an important contribution to the UK’s future needs for clean, secure and affordable energy. The project is already creating business and job opportunities for British companies and workers.

Through Our Sustainability Commitments, EDF Energy has launched one of the biggest environmental and social programmes of any British energy company. EDF is the official energy utilities partner and sustainability partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The company is also helping its customers and others use energy more sustainably through products and initiatives such as Team Green Britain, smart meters and electric vehicle research.

EDF Energy is part of EDF Group, one of Europe’s largest power companies. The company employs around 15,000 people at locations across the UK.