Criticism of Norwich switch and save energy deal

City Hall in Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher.

City Hall in Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

Hundreds of people expected to benefit most from a council project to slash energy bills could miss out for a second time.

More than 500 people have signed up for the second phase of Norwich City Council's Switch and Save project, which aims to negotiate with energy companies on behalf of a large number of people to secure cheaper deals.

But just 2.8pc, or an estimated 50 people, who use prepayment meters joined the first phase.

And none of them was offered a deal as no energy provider bid at the last auction for the prepayment group.

The Labour-controlled city council says they are 'optimistic' a deal can be secured in the second phase as more local authorities are taking part. It is urging people on prepayment meters to sign-up in numbers to improve their chances.

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Lucy Galvin, deputy leader of the Green Party group, said: 'The council says this scheme will help address fuel poverty.

'Yet those with prepayment meters – often the poorest people – were offered no deal at all, while everyone else got savings.'

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More than 500 people have so far signed up for the second phase. Online registration is open until April 8 and offline registration until March 24.

An auction is planned for April 9. People will then be made an offer and they can choose if they switch.

In the first phase around 20pc of the 1,768 properties switched, saving an average of £166.

A council spokesman said: 'The bottom line is that we are keen for as many prepayment meter customers as possible to sign up.

'The more who do so, the better the deal they are likely to be offered.'

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