Citizens Advice, Isle of Wight, has succeeded in significantly reducing energy bills for the most vulnerable through the Energy Best Deal Extra (EBDX) project, which tailors its individual advice to clients on their energy bills.
For the 2018/19 project, which ended on March 31, Citizens Advice, Isle of Wight, helped Island residents, such as pensioners, those on low-income and health related benefits, the unemployed, and parents with dependent children, to significantly reduce their bills.
Citizens Advice, Isle of Wight, also took part in the Big Energy Saving Week, working alongside other energy-related charitable organisations, such as the Footprint Trust, to promote energy saving ideas. During this week, Citizens Advice visited playgroups and community service projects to spread awareness of the scheme.
The CEO of Citizens Advice, Isle of Wight, Paul Savill, said: “The project wasn’t just about switching to lower energy tariffs. The emphasis has been on ensuring that clients are receiving the best deal applicable to their personal and financial circumstances. Our Energy Expert was able to help people query incorrect charges: over the course of the last three months, clients have been refunded nearly £8,000 through our intervention. We were also able to assist in getting the Warm Home Discount for a number of clients who previously thought they weren’t eligible.”
Citizens Advice were really concerned to identify aggressive collection practices by the energy companies, which they will be campaigning against on behalf of Island residents.
Paul said: “The quality of customer service leaves a lot to be desired. We found that the energy companies are aggressively chasing debts which aren’t owed by the client. Clients reported wrong meter readings, even the wrong meters attached to accounts for which they were being pursued. Some energy companies think that the direct debit is a licence to take money from customer’s accounts at their will, and have been taking extra, exaggerated payments without any regard to a customer’s financial position. We will be reporting these practices to OfGem and asking for tighter accountability.”
“Getting out into the community is important for us to reach as many people as possible. We are expanding our Outreach footprint by providing General Advice sessions in Binstead and Upper Ventnor, as well as our increasingly popular sessions in Ryde, Freshwater, East Cowes and Sandown. With the success of our Advice sessions during Energy Week, we are looking at joining with other community projects such as playgroups, and we recently joined the Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) session in the Riverside Centre, Newport, for service veterans and their families.”
Whilst the EBDx project has now finished, Citizens Advice Isle of Wight will still help residents who are concerned about their energy bills or need help querying fuel charges. Please contact Citizens Advice on 01983 823898 ext 2828 for an appointment or call in to one of the Advice sessions at various locations across the island.
Further details can be found at: www.citizensadviceiw.org.uk