COUNCIL bosses in Leeds are being urged to develop an energy bulk buying scheme that could cut the fuel bills of thousands of households across the city.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey has written to councils suggesting they organise collective purchasing on behalf of residents. The aim of such schemes is to allow large groups of consumers to join together to negotiate cheaper energy bills.
And Coun Barry Anderson, chair of the council’s safer and stronger communities scrutiny board, which recently carried out an inquiry into fuel poverty, said the council was well place to use its bulk purchasing power to get lower rates that could be passed on to vulnerable households.
Cornwall Council has already launched a collective purchasing scheme.
It is estimated that just over 17 per cent of Leeds households – 57,000 – are in fuel poverty, defined as having to spend over 10 per cent of their income to keep their homes warm.
Coun Anderson said: “Our scrutiny board inquiry concluded that that there are strong links between ill health and fuel poverty, which undoubtedly has a significant impact on the most vulnerable in society.
“Local authorities are well placed to negotiate bulk purchasing deals. Now that the government have voiced their commitment and backing for such schemes, the council needs to power ahead with this initiative.”
Coun Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said he welcomed the work the scrutiny board had done in highlighting the issue of fuel poverty.
He added: “The council is already carrying out innovative initiatives to address the problem such as our Wrap Up scheme that offers free home insultation to help residents with their fuel bills.
“The council is looking at further schemes around household energy savings and looking into how best to tackle the issues the board raised.”