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Offering bags of advice
Monday 5th February 2018 @ 08:00 by Nigel Skinner
Glossop Chronicle Hadfield News

People heard about keeping warm over a hot drink when Citizens Advice experts shared High Peak MP Ruth George’s latest coffee morning.

The Derbyshire District’s team spent 90 minutes at Hadfield Methodist Church handing out free on the spot advice on how to save money.

The local CAB has been working with Ruth to help residents tackle their energy costs and cut fuel bills.

Last Saturday’s joint initiative was part of Big Energy Saving Week, a national campaign involving Citizens Advice.

CAB Derbyshire Districts is warning that too many loyal customers are still being ripped off simply because they don’t switch providers.

Energy and financial capability officer Russell Bosanko said: “Energy use and paying for it is having a real impact on people’s lives.

“Our research shows that it is often pensioners and people on low incomes who are least likely to switch. This means that it’s the consumers who can least afford it who end up stuck on expensive default tariffs.”

The charity, which provides free, independent and impartial advice,  used the constituency coffee morning to provide information and book appointments to help people save on bills, and help them overcome barriers to switching suppliers.

Russell, who gives energy advice across the High Peak, warns that ‘a lack of access to better deals, geographical isolation, or poor broadband connections and digital skills,  are causing disadvantage and exclusion.’

He said: “People are also facing  barriers in keeping their homes warm such as rural isolation, and living in old heat-inefficient properties which mean some people are struggling to keep warm.”

Saturday’s session gave practical advice about how to reduce energy costs using a three-step rule of check, switch, save.

• Check the meter and bills regularly to make sure you are paying the right amount.

• Switch to a different tariff or supplier that’s better value for money by using Citizens Advice’s energy comparison tool.

• Save energy by turning appliances off and making sure walls and lofts are well insulated. Also make sure your boiler is in good working order.

If you didn’t make the coffee morning you can still get help!

You can use the Citizen Advice’s energy comparison tool at home or visit your nearest Citizens Advice Derbyshire Districts office or call the Derbyshire Districts Advice line on 0300 456 8390 and find out how the charity can help cut energy costs.   

Ruth said: “With so many older houses in High Peak, over a fifth of residents suffer fuel poverty.

“It’s especially an issue for older people, so I am pleased to support Citizens Advice’ ‘Big Energy Savings Week’.

“While many people now shop around for the best deal, there are still many who do not, and I know from my regular surgeries and coffee mornings that pensioners and people on low incomes are the least likely to switch supplier,” she added.

The MP said the coffee mornings are a great way for her to meet residents in all of High Peak’s towns and villages to find out their interests and concerns, informally over a cup of coffee or tea.