The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey visited the Eden Project today to launch a ground-breaking collective buying scheme which aims to tackle fuel poverty in Cornwall.
The new scheme, Cornwall Together, is to help households across the county save an estimated £3.7 million through cheaper energy tariffs. It is hoped more than 20,000 people may be able to reduce their energy bills by 10-15%.
It’s thought to be the first time an entire county has united as a community to buy energy more cheaply, enabling it to also tackle economic problems, encourage environmental sustainability and improve people’s health and wellbeing.
How Cornwall Together works
- Residents register their interest with the scheme to find a cheaper energy tariff, providing details of their current fuel bills.
- Cornwall Together will negotiate on behalf of all those that have registered to get best value tariffs. As well as identifying best value deals, wherever possible a green energy option will be offered.
- For each energy switch, 10% of the total money saved will be put back into a fuel poverty fund which will benefit the whole county. Cornwall Together will then seek match-funding from other organisations.
Conceived by the Eden Project, Cornwall Together was originally pioneered by Cornwall Council, the NHS, Community Energy Plus and Community Buying UnLtd. They have been joined by delivery partners energyshare – the community renewable energy platform – and uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
St Austell Brewery and Unison are also supporting the scheme, promoting it to their staff and also helping Cornwall Together reach vulnerable members of the community.
Tim Smit, Eden’s Co-founder and CEO, Development, explains: ‘Cornwall Together is born from a spirit of community. Saving money is important, but the programme is also about bringing the people and businesses of Cornwall together. We hope to create more resilient communities and a deeper sense of togetherness as we negotiate as a powerful unit.’
Fuel poverty in Cornwall
Collectively, Cornish households spend around £1.2 billion on energy each year. According to the NHS, 25% of these households are in fuel poverty. Across the UK the average household energy bill has rocketed by 140% a year since 2004 (from £522 to £1,254). Cornwall Together wants to secure cheaper energy bills for residents, helping to reduce fuel poverty in the county – and its associated health risks.
NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s Director of Public Health, Felicity Owen, said: ‘What excites us about the Cornwall Together initiative is its community focus and the potential to reduce fuel poverty, which can lead to excess deaths in winter and contribute to other health conditions.'
Cornwall Together will first negotiate for cheaper gas and electricity. It will then also negotiate for heating oil, to accommodate the significant number of people in Cornwall’s rural areas who aren’t on the mains gas grid.
Once the concept is proven, the initiative will be launched in other counties as part of a national UKTogether campaign.
To see if you can save money on your energy bill, join up at Cornwall Together by visiting www.cornwalltogether.com, where you can also register your interest as a business.