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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Support for people hit by rising energy costs

Help will be provided for Biddulph residents facing “astronomical prices” in their gas and energy bills.

In less than three months’ time, the cost of living is expected to rise yet again, with millions of households forced to manage a record price hike.

But at Biddulph Town Hall, plans have been unveiled to hold events aimed at educating and advising those most affected by the surge.

A grant has been obtained by the town council for holding open days involving “incentives and freebies” in partnership with Citizens Advice and the foodbank.

At a meeting of council’s Town and Community Committee last Tuesday, chief officer Sarah Haydon explained: “Western Power Distribution has offered to fund face-to-face support for people who are experiencing fuel poverty, as well as events to help deal with it.

“The town council applied for a £2,000 grant to train our reception staff to give support and to be able to host events in the town hall on an ongoing basis. It is a particularly difficult time at the moment for some people, as they have noticed astronomical prices in their energy bills.”

The energy price cap, which will be set by the regulator in April, is expected to see the average gas and electricity bill rise dramatically, leaving the most vulnerable in the community struggling to make ends meet.

The cap sets a limit on the default energy tariffs for millions of households and since it was introduced in 2019, hit a record average figure this winter of £1,277 a year. But by April, some estimates suggest it could be set as high as £2,000 a year.

Coun Nigel Yates suggested holding a dedicated energy event in the town, similar to eco-fairs that have been held previously.

“It could coincide with the change in the energy price cap. If the energy companies are included, we might be able to access grants for insulation, which is the key thing,” he said.

“People don’t realise how important insulation is. Ultimately, if the bill goes up and consumption is able to come down, it could balance out so that the price stays the same. That can only happen if we can promote certain initiatives and provide advice.”

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