Portsmouth City Council are aiming to help residents traverse domestic gas and electricity tariffs with the launch of a search engine-based comparison and switching service.
Every energy company charges a wide range of rates for the same energy depending on the characteristics of energy usage, so it’s important for consumers to keep an eye on their tariff and shop around for the best deals.
Portsmouth City Council’s new switching service will launch in partnership with Ofgem-accredited UK Power, who run comparison engines for many of the UK’s biggest switching organisations.
The search engine which powers the switches is deemed 100% accurate in determining the best supplier for each household’s circumstance, and promises to give independent advice on the cheapest tariffs.
It’s hoped the service will help residents to switch their energy provider to make big savings, and Portsmouth City Council are one of the first councils in the country to offer this service.
The website generates income back to the council through commission generated from switches. The authority receives a small amount of commision from the energy suppliers each time a resident switches a fuel, and this commision goes directly into supporting and improving public services, which many Portsmouth residents rely on.
This commission would normally be paid to the private company responsible for promoting the service, usually based elsewhere in the UK. Using Portsmouth City Council’s switching service will help to keep this money local.
A statement from the council reads: “It is also hoped that the money saved will be spent within the local Portsmouth economy.”
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones said: “We know it has been a struggle for a lot of people. We are proud to be one of the first local authorities to offer a switching service to their residents.
“It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your household expenses and ensure that you’re not paying more than you need to. By offering this service we can help residents save money on their gas and electricity bills, whilst ensuring it’s provided by a trusted source.
“By partnering with UK Power and AgilityEco, we’ve been able to generate money back into the local authority, with funds going right back into supporting and sustaining council services in our city, which benefits everyone.”
“I encourage everyone to use the site and take a look at what you could save. If you haven’t switched your tariff recently there’s the potential to save hundreds of pounds.”
The company partnering with Portsmouth City Council, UK Power, who have built and run the website, have shown that customers switching their supplier with them saved an average of £297, based on switches made in the first six months of 2016.
To get feedback, the council circulated details of the website to its staff a week ago, and those who have used it to switch have reported that they found it simple to use.
Katherine Shadwell, a technical assistant, used the website to switch supplier for gas and electricity, achieving a saving of more than £300 from her annual bill. She said: “I was surprised how easy it was to use. I answered a few questions and then it listed the prices available to me.
“All in all it only took about five minutes to complete the forms and I couldn’t believe it when the prices came back. I’ll save £308 a year.”
Customers of the service won’t even need to contact their old supplier or change any direct debits, as the new energy company does it all for you.
Owen Buckwell is the director responsible for Portsmouth City Council’s Property and Housing service, including social housing where deprivation levels are often high, and fuel poverty is a real risk. He said: “The switching website will be a valuable tool for our front-line services such as our housing officers who work with vulnerable tenants on issues around managing household bills and debt mitigation.
“Even a small saving on energy bills has the potential to make a big difference to the lives of people on the breadline, and so we hope that these people will make the call or get online to switch.
“We’ve made the process as simple as possible, and will promote this service widely to try to pick up on households who have previously been reluctant or unaware that they can switch.”
Try the switching service for yourself at switch.portsmouth.gov.uk.