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Community Partnership to bring cheaper energy to fuel poor

People who face fuel poverty will be getting some help to find cheaper energy, with a new energy switching service now available.

A partnership of 30 organisations including charities, local authorities and housing associations have launched the Cheaper Energy Together community partnership to help bring cheaper energy to households across the UK through a new initiative funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The Cheaper Energy Together partnership, led by not-for-profit ‘thePeoplesPower’, will provide a collective and instant energy switching service to get households a better deal through the power of group buying, and will also offer free energy saving advice and support.

The project, which will be open to all UK households, will have a particular focus on those facing fuel poverty, and those who have not switched before.  Residents will be able to sign up online, on the phone, or at a series of local events over the next two months, before a big community switch is held in March.

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said the DECC funding would help “drive forward collective purchasing and switching initiatives at a local level, helping consumers get a better deal on their energy bills”.

“We need to find new ways to help people with their energy bills, working with communities and councils across the country” he said. “I am delighted so many organisations want to run new co-operative schemes to help people, especially the fuel poor, to get the best deals in the market.”

Involving dedicated community and voluntary organisations based in and around the Midlands, the community partnership hopes to tackle some of the worse fuel poverty levels in England: In Herefordshire, fuel poverty affects over 27 per cent of households (2010 figures), compared to the national average of just over 16 per cent.

All organisations involved are not-for-profit. The switching service will be completely free to consumers and a small referral fee will be charged to energy suppliers of between £5 and £8 per switch (far less than the industry average of £40-£70 per switch). All referral fees will contribute to the cost of running the initiative, no profits will be made.

Cllr Russell B Hamilton, cabinet member for environment, housing and planning said: “this is great news.  We are excited to be involved in such a strong community partnership for cheaper energy bills”.  I am a great advocate of any such arrangement that brings people and their purchasing power together.  I truly believe that by working together people can drive prices down and reclaim the balance of power. Although energy switching is equally relevant to all households it will make a significant difference to the most vulnerable.

“We are making a big effort to work with households who may be facing fuel poverty in helping them get better deals on their energy bills”.

If you’d like to find out more, or to sign up for cheaper energy together, then visit www.cheaperenergytogether.org. Signing up is free, easy and there is no obligation. If you don’t have internet access you can call the project free-phone helpline on 0800 888 6611.