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Anti-poverty charities in bed with the BigSix: our response

Yesterday we published a statement about a joint meeting between Big Six profiteers British Gas and housing charity Shelter.

Today comes news that Save the Children are also sponsored by British Gas and EDF Energy. The Independent reports on the following:

One of Britain’s biggest charities is today accused  by a whistleblower of  self-censoring criticism of Big Six energy suppliers for fear of upsetting existing – or potential – corporate donors.

Save the Children, one of the UK’s oldest NGOs, which raised almost £300m last year, is alleged to have repeatedly quashed press releases criticising British Gas price rises to avoid damaging its corporate partnership with the company, which was worth £1.5m over 10 years. The charity is also accused of dropping a potential campaign on the effects of fuel poverty on children while it was under consideration for funding from EDF.’

We are deeply troubled by anti-poverty charities cooperation with poverty profiteers. If big charities can’t and won’t call out and identify poverty creating behaviour, who will?! And who are they really benefitting if they don’t address the causes of poverty, but instead take money from those who force meters on the vulnerable, whilst keeping quiet about the additional 300,000 people were pushed into fuel poverty this year?

Below is our statement to Shelter:

On Tuesday 10th December housing organisations, including grassroots tenants groups and big charity Shelter are getting together in east London at a roundtable event to talk about housing, private tenants rights and to discuss what happens ‘particularly when it comes to poor conditions in, and management of, their property.’

The event is being jointly hosted by Shelter and British Gas.

British Gas, as in the profits-before-people, polluting British Gas?

British Gas, as in one of the most influential Big Six companies who have recently successfully lobbied the government to cut ‘green taxes’ to ‘take £50 off the bill’ which in turn hugely cut insulation funding for those in worst quality housing stock from 80,000 homes per year to 25,000 homes per year?
The £50 off the bill that British Gas lobbied hard for comes entirely from money that was signposted to insulate the worst quality and draftiest housing stock whilst not affecting one single penny of profit from British Gas, whose owners Centrica made £1.58 billion pure profit in just 6 months this year.

We want to ask Shelter, who do lots of valuable work on housing, if it is really appropriate to be taking sponsorship money from and hosting joint events with a company who lobbied to dramatically reduce funding for insulation when the impact is that tens of thousands of families more families are now condemned to live in cold and damp housing for many more years to come, as well as being left with high bills that come with trying to keep drafty and cold homes warm.

Companies rely on respected charities like Shelter for their ‘social license to operate.’ Whilst charities are willing to cooperate with them they are able to brand themselves as ‘one of the good guys’, whilst in fact simultaneously ensuring that families are condemned to poverty so that they can continue with their profiteering and polluting ways undisturbed.

For more on the British Gas lobbying story:



One thought on “Anti-poverty charities in bed with the BigSix: our response

  1. What has been written here about the decision by Shelter to join British Gas in an event on housing problems is very alarming. I am concerned about some acquaintances who rely on charities such as Shelter, and I must say I feel very worried about their circumstances.

    Posted by Hasan Abdulla | December 9, 2013, 5:04 pm

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