SALFORD residents should get rid of their prepayment meters and those paying by direct debit should look for better deals, say Salford City Council.

Last year, homes with prepayment meters in Salford rose seven percent from 23,555 to 25,306 and customers paid an extra £300 for their bills.

Salford City Council want to tackle ‘fuel poverty’ and ‘rip-off energy prices’ with a Fairer Energy Deal to support residents in finding better deals.

13 energy companies supplying homes across Salford were contacted by Salford City Council as part of the Fairer Energy Deal campaign.

The council urged energy suppliers to work with them to reduce the number of prepayment meters across Salford.

Councillor Longshaw, lead member for housing and neighbourhoods at Salford City Council, said: “As well as people getting the best deal, we have contacted energy suppliers in our city to say – ‘be fair charge people the going rate for energy and not rip off prices’.

Great Places, Salix Homes, City West, Together Housing, and three private landlords have already signed up to Salford’s Fairer Energy Deal.

They will work with the council and support residents moving into new homes to find better energy deals.

Together Housing are looking at installing smart meters for their residents while Salix Homes are meeting with British Gas to see how they can get the best deal for tenants.

Smart meters can digitally send meter readings to energy suppliers meaning the readings may be more accurate.

Councillor Longshaw added: “Many households are forced to sit in the cold when finances are tight and food and other essentials are needed. And older or more vulnerable customers cannot always make it to the shop or post office to top up when the weather is bad. In Salford we stand up for fairness, and will never wain from this position.”

“Is it really fair that people have to live this way in 2017? And with prepayment meter usage
increasing things are only getting worse” – Councillor Longshaw

Anna Hanson-Morris, 36, pharmacy technician, who currently has a prepayment meter, said: “The bill keeps going up and as I will be off work for a year with my baby with only part of my wage for some of it then the last three months there will be no pay at all.

“My wife is also a student so only has a zero hour contract to fit around her studies so we are trying to make sure we are okay and don’t get behind with bills.”

Ofgem, the government’s energy regulator, is introducing a temporary prepayment meter price cap expected to save customers around £80 a year.

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Smart meters will give prepayment customers access to better prepayment deals within the market so that makes it easier for the prepayment customers to switch.

“Eventually there will be smart prepayment meters so a smart meter on a prepayment tariff would offer a lot more benefits to a customer.” – Ofgem

“With a smart meter it will be easier for you to switch to a deal that is more value for money. It also means for the suppliers themselves, it will reduce their costs for serving prepayment customers so it means that suppliers will be able to offer more competitive deals for prepayment customers as well.”

The temporary prepayment price cap came into effect on 1 April and will last until the end of 2020 when the roll out of smart meters is set to be completed.

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