Tackling fuel poverty

Tackling fuel poverty was discussed as one way to maximise available family incomes. A number of options were discussed, including improving insulation and decreasing fuel costs.

Firstly, for insulation, the possibility of running take up campaigns for the Affordable Warmth Scheme and its successors was discussed. No local authority that we have spoken to had attempted this yet, but it was discussed as a possibility. Alternatively, for local authorities with areas of high deprivation within them, working with the six large energy providers obliged to implement the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation might assist with supporting insulation programmes. Again, we did not come across any local authorities that had tried this approach, but there may be potential for local authorities to assist with home insulation.

Secondly, however, there were many local authorities that had worked to attempt to reduce fuel costs in their area, through bulk buying power and selling it on more cheaply to residents. Schemes are now in place in a number of areas, including Peterborough, where they are operating a switching scheme.

Peterborough’s switching scheme1

Rather than switching provider and reducing your energy bill as an individual, people register to switch and save as a big group all at the same time.

Those that tend to make the biggest savings are those households that rarely switch or have never switched. If (they) do switch – (they) can still see if you can get a better deal or check you’re on a competitive rate.

At the end of each round an auction will be held with energy providers to find out which one will bid the best price to supply energy to all those households that have registered. Then you will be sent a personal offer – and it’s up to (them) if (they) accept or not.

Savings so far

Round one

  • Average savings across the scheme – annual saving £122 per household
  • Monthly dual direct debit customers had the biggest average saving of £149
  • Over 300 Peterborough households switched and saved
  • Savings of up to £400 a year were reported
  • Winning energy companies were OVO Energy, Co-operative and Scottish Power

Round Two

  • Average savings across the scheme – annual saving £126 per household
  • Monthly dual direct debit had the biggest average saving of £163
  • 1,000 city households registered to save
  • Winning energy companies were British Gas, Sainsbury’s Energy and Scottish Power
  • 66 per cent of those registered would make a saving if they switch

 More information can be found at www.readytoswitchpeterborough.co.uk