Thanks to rocketing gas and electricity costs, the very thought of not paying through the roof for electricity and gas central heating seems like the stuff of fiction. But a new campaign has launched which aims to stop energy providers ripping off customers.
With record numbers of people falling into fuel poverty – which is becoming a major social problem – consumer organisation Which? has teamed up with 38 Degrees, a campaign group, to launch The Big Switch. The campaign is setting out to achieve the best possible prices for energy consumers.
Consumers have only 31 March to sign up to the campaign, after which energy firms will be asked to take part in what is essentially a “reverse auction” to find the best price. All those who signed up will be invited to switch en masse. The whole process will be overseen by Which?
“We’re all sick of gas and electricity companies ripping us off. If thousands of customers band together, we’ll have the bargaining power to do something about it,” said David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees.
Figures from Consumer Focus have revealed that just under seven million households are currently fuel poor. More than half of all people aged 60 and over and living alone are said to be struggling.
There are schemes out there which offer assistance for people struggling with energy costs. Government schemes like the Warm Front scheme for example. Helping the poorest households make their homes warmer, people have until 31 March to apply for a grant. To be eligible for funding to put towards insulation and heating home improvements – such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation – you have to be in receipt of pension credit or certain benefits. With £143 million set as the total amount of Government funding for the financial year £143 million, up to a fifth is expected to go unclaimed, meaning up to 16,000 vulnerable households could miss out.
To find out if you could be eligible for a Warm front grant call 0800 316 2805