Article published: Monday, January 21st 2013
Over one fifth of households in Manchester live in fuel poverty. Two winters ago, 120 people in the city died of the cold. But a new public scheme hopes to help residents shave off up to £250 from their bills each year through a mass energy switch which closes next Monday, 28 January.
Organised by Greater Manchester’s ten local councils, the GM Fair Energy initiative invites people to pool their resources in a “reverse auction” and use their collective buying power to get a cheaper bill from energy companies.
Energy companies have hiked up fuel bills 7 per cent on average this year and the typical annual direct debit bill now amounts to £1,247, according to the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group.
In Greater Manchester alone up to 200,000 households are officially classed as fuel poor, defined by spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating.
To enter the first round, households just need to register their interest together with a copy of their latest fuel bill by 28 January.
The scheme is aimed at Greater Manchester residents, but anyone in the UK can join.
Anyone who enters will be offered a new rate based on their existing usage – and there’s no obligation to accept it. The offer is open to people who use pre-payment meters.
Up to 20,000 people have so far signed up to the scheme, based on a pilot carried out in Oldham last year which attracted 8,000 members.
Backing the initiative, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said, “This switching scheme will make a huge difference to the lives of residents by enabling them to knock hundreds off their household bills.
“The more people who come forward, the more they could save from their fuel bills, and residents don’t even have to accept the offer so they have literally nothing to lose by registering.
“Energy switching is still relatively new in the UK, but in many parts of Europe it is now common practice, and I believe this scheme will demonstrate once again how this makes a lot of sense for anyone who doesn’t like paying over the odds to keep warm.”
If you’d like more info, visit Greater Manchester Fair Energy or ring the Energy Advice Centre on 0800 009 3363 between 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday. Calls are free.
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