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LECCY: Competing with the Big Six

In May, Liverpool City Council launched a new not-for-profit energy company to tackle fuel poverty in the region. Here, its cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr Steve Munby, explains why.

Fuel poverty has always been an issue in Liverpool, but austerity and the impact of welfare reform mean that some families are really struggling to cover the cost of heating, lighting and cooking.

The facts are stark.

One in seven Liverpool households live in fuel poverty, compared with one in 10 nationally. That’s 30,000 households, many of them with vulnerable older people and children. Around 70,000 households in the city use prepayment meters – and pay £226 more a year on their fuel bills compared with the cheapest direct debt tariff.

It is estimated poor housing conditions in Liverpool cause up to 500 deaths and 5,000 illnesses requiring medical attention each year.

We already do a lot of work helping improve energy efficiency in homes and working with local families to help them reduce energy costs through our Healthy Homes scheme.

This includes switching to cheaper tariffs, checking they are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to and improving energy efficiency.

But earlier this year we took it a stage further and teamed up with Robin Hood Energy to form the Liverpool Energy Community Company (LECCY), in order to offer competitively priced gas and electricity cheaper than that offered by the Big Six.

By setting up a not-for-profit company, we can offer really competitive rates. We’re not out to make a profit for shareholders like other energy suppliers, and instead focus on delivering the best value for local people.

The LECCY also offers advice to households to help them move off costly prepayment meters and on to cheaper direct debit tariffs.

More than 1,000 people expressed interest before the launch and we have turned those leads into around 400 customers, which is not bad going when summer is not a time when people usually think about switching.

We’ll be ramping up our marketing as we head into wintertime and expect that we’ll be attracting many more customers with a new offer.

But we are careful to make sure that we don’t claim to be the cheapest. We know that we can’t compete with the Big Six, who offer gimmicks or introductory loss-leaders.

What we do is offer good value, long-term tariffs and a commitment to help people get the best deal for them.

And if residents take a look around the market and decide to switch to someone else rather than the LECCY, then that’s absolutely fine by us – because at least we will know they will be getting a better deal than they are currently on. And that’s a win/win for everyone.

Top Image: JuliusKielaitis




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