City-dwellers paying too much for bills due to low literacy levels - council report claims

A report from Norwich City Council has claimed city-dwellers are paying too much for their bills. Pi

A report from Norwich City Council has claimed city-dwellers are paying too much for their bills. Picture: Mariah Feria - Credit: Archant

Low literacy levels and struggles with technology are standing in the way of city-dwellers keeping their monthly bills down - a council report has claimed. A report assessing fuel poverty in the city has suggested that people in Norwich are missing out on the best deals for such overheads as energy, car insurance and phone bills, with a lack of basic digital skills a reason for this.

It says: 'A significant proportion of Norwich residents have low literacy levels and are lacking basic digital skills or Internet access - all of which can impede access to some of the most competitive deals on a range of products from car insurance, mobile telephones and energy tariffs.

'The impact of financial recession and welfare reforms has only served to increase the challenges for disadvantages residents.'

The report says the city council continually works to remedy this through its advisors, who give out support and tips on how to find the best available deals.

The city council is also one of a number of local authorities subscribing to a scheme called Big Switch and Save, which helps people change energy suppliers to more competitive rates.

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John Graver, centre manager of Christians Against Poverty in Norwich, an organisation which offers debt advice to people, said it could often be complacency that led to people paying too much for their bills.

He said: 'I think most of the people we talk with have real troubles finding the money to pay their bills which often comes down to just not being aware of the offers that are out there.

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'People will often say they have been with the same providers for a long time and just weren't aware they could pay less.'

Mr Graver said his team would frequently help clients with price comparison websites or speak to their providers to help them get the best value for their money.

However he added: 'I do not necessarily think too many people in Norwich struggle to access the Internet - you very rarely meet somebody without mobile phones for example.

'Some people do just get in the habit of sticking with the same provider rather than taking the time to shop around to get the best they can.'

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