I have, for many years, voiced my concerns about the increasing levels of fuel poverty across the city. As chair of the Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Board, I recently led an inquiry into the causes of fuel poverty. This concluded that there are strong links between ill health and fuel poverty, which undoubtedly has a significant impact on the most vulnerable in our society.
I have asked the Council to take immediate steps to help Leeds residents reduce their energy bills. Recently, the Government’s Energy Secretary wrote to all local authorities suggesting they organise collective purchasing and switching schemes on behalf of residents.
The aim of such schemes is to allow large groups of consumers to join together to negotiate cheaper energy bills. In some cases the energy companies bid for business in a “reverse auction” approach, with the lowest bid being successful.
Local Authorities are well placed to negotiate bulk purchasing deals on behalf of residents. Now that the Government have voiced their commitment and backing for such schemes, the Council needs to power ahead with this initiative.
Other Councils have already launched collective purchasing schemes. This begs the question why Leeds, as one of the Core Cities, is not innovative in seeking solutions to such things, rather than following where others lead.