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Fuel poverty
  • Published:
    30 November
  • Area of Law:
    Firm news

Law firm helps npower to fight fuel poverty

Law firm Shakespeare Martineau has assisted energy company npower with its aim to alleviate the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma, which is faced by many people across the UK each winter.

Following research conducted by the energy company into the scale of fuel poverty across the South East of England, Shakespeare Martineau advised npower on all aspects of setting up an independent charity to provide emergency support to those experiencing a fuel crisis.

The findings of the report revealed that almost half (45 per cent) of households in the region will cut down on using heating during the winter, with one third of those households making this choice every day. More than 1 in 10 (11 per cent) of households said that they will have fewer hot showers or baths and 13 per cent plan to reduce the amount of hot water they use for washing up or cleaning clothes.

The npower Foundation, which was successfully registered as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation), launched earlier this month with support from food blogger Jack Monroe. Its chief aim is to allow the utility company to advance its existing Fuel Bank scheme more widely. This works through selected UK food banks and currently provides around 35,000 people each year with emergency ‘pay as you go’ fuel support.

Shakespeare Martineau’s private client team drew on their extensive knowledge and experience of assisting corporations to establish a CIO structure in order to help the energy provider register with the Charity Commission within extremely challenging timescales.

A strong understanding of Charity Commission requirements allowed the firm to anticipate and smoothly navigate the hurdles in setting up these kinds of structures, avoiding common delays in the registration process. As well as advising npower on the most appropriate charitable structure, Shakespeare Martineau also provided expert insight into the compliance and tax implications of registering a new charity.

Lesley Davis, partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, commented: “In 2017, nobody should have to choose between eating or heating their homes. The npower Foundation is a truly worthwhile project which will make a big difference to many families and individuals in real need this winter.

“This was a challenging but hugely rewarding project for the firm to be involved in, and a great example of how we combine specialist legal skills and experience with in-depth sector knowledge to deliver great benefits for our sector clients. I’m confident that the npower Foundation is in a great position to be delivering much-needed support for years to come.”

Matthew Cole Head of Domestic Policy & Social Energy at npower, said: “We learned a lot and achieved even more working with Shakespeare Martineau in the set-up of our new npower Foundation. They appreciated both the tight timescales we were working to and the high expectations we had, and worked efficiently to ensure that regulatory hurdles were understood and overcome so we could launch on our target date.

“What stands out for me however was their approach to collaborative working; to make sure that we properly understood the complexities of working in the charitable space, coupled by their in depth understanding of not only what we wanted to achieve, but the our rationale behind it. It felt like we were one team on this: and from experience not all companies have the same ethos.”

"They are very professional, respond promptly, always discuss the monthly bill and have, so far, provided us with excellent advice in connection with employment issues. I have been very satisfied."

Andrew Argyle LLB, Practice Director, Potter Clarkson LLP