In an effort to fight back against ever increasing energy bills that have put thousands of Salford people into fuel poverty, Greater Manchester councils have banded together to form their first ever collective energy switching scheme.
Basically, anyone who registers before the 28th January will be part of a group auction, where energy companies will be asked to make the lowest bid to supply power. The company with the lowest bid gets the contract – and those who register, without obligation, will get an e-mail at the beginning of February with an offer, based on previous usage, which can either be accepted or declined.
Around 20,000 people have registered so far, while a pilot scheme in Oldham has already saved more than £170 each for the 8,000 people who registered.
Pensioner Ann Walters, aged 70 from Winton, was one of the first people in Salford to sign up to Greater Manchester's Energy Switching Scheme.
"I live purely off my pension and if gas and electricity prices continue to rise then I will be in a lot of trouble" she said "I'm very careful with my heating, when my husband goes to work at night, I switch it all off and just have the small fire in the front room. You've got to be careful these days with gas and electricity bills rising all the time.
"My mum is 96 and in this day and age she should not have to worry about putting her heating on in case she cannot afford to pay the bills" she adds "I have a real concern for local people as energy prices are already far too high - I am fed up with companies constantly putting their prices up. I hope we will be able to bring power back to the people of Salford and put pressure on the big energy companies to listen to us and reduce their prices. People must join in and have their voice heard."
Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, who is backing the scheme explained "Far too many people are already struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills. By using our collective strength and real 'people power' we can force companies to cut their prices. We just need as many people as possible to sign up to get cheaper prices.
"We have everything to gain and nothing to lose" he added "If people register and aren't happy with the quote they are given, then they don't have to accept it. But you have got to register first, to take advantage of cheaper prices later on. You've got to be in it, to win it."
Anyone can register, whether they live in Greater Manchester or not; the scheme is without any obligation, it's free to register and all you need is your latest energy bill on hand. The first round of the scheme ends on January 28th but we understand that there is a further round in March, in case anyone misses out.
For further details see the official website – click here
Up to five addresses can be registered off one e-mail address and, for anyone without e-mail or who needs help, there's a free phone number to ring 0800 009 3363 (Monday to Friday from 9:00am-5pm)
See Ian Stewart explaining the scheme in a Salford Council video - click here
* Main photo features subvertising hoarding campaign from last January - see Salford Star article click here