Energy Secretary praises work of Cornwall Together
The Energy Secretary has praised the work of a collective energy-buying group from the Westcountry after it raised more than £12,000 to distribute to households in fuel poverty.
Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said more community groups should follow the example of Cornwall Together, after the ground-breaking group raised the funds from the first of two rounds of a group buying-programme.
The group, which was put together following a joint collaboration between the Eden Project, Cornwall Council, the NHS and Community Energy Plus, estimates that through its work and that of UK Together, which included bill payers from Exeter, up to £430,000 has been cut from people's energy bills.
The group has had the backing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which supported its second phase through the Cheaper Energy Together Programme.
The news comes in the aftermath of huge energy bill rises, prompted by announcement by the so-called 'big six' energy companies that prices would rise up to 9%.
The project includes 50% more people in fuel poverty than are present as a percentage in the general population, with a majority of members turning to the collective as they struggles to pay bills.
Mr Davey said community energy projects provide a significant number of benefits for local communities.
"This new fuel poverty fund is a great example with more than £12,000 this winter going to Cornish households to help them keep warm," he said.
"I want to see many more community groups following the lead of Cornwall Together and taking control of how they reduce, generate and buy their energy."
Up to 10% of the revenue generated from each energy switch under the project was dedicated to the fund.
The money will be spent supporting the Winter Wellness Emergency Fund, which is run by a partnership of more than 30 public, charitable and business organisations, aiming to reduce fuel poverty, improve health and support progress to work.
The emergency fund aims to prevent winter deaths and offers help, support and advice on how to make homes warmer. It also offers support to people caring for young children, in poor health or at risk of ill health and worried about their home being cold, damp or mouldy.
Matt Hastings, Cornwall Together project manager, said: "Cornwall Together did a lot to increase awareness of energy issues and managed to save households around the county significant amounts of money on their bills.
"However, with energy bills still rising and household incomes being squeezed, fuel poverty is still a major problem. We hope that this fund can go some way to help those who need most support."