Fuel bills set to drop

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ENERGY bills in Wigan could be slashed by up to £200 a year in a pioneering ‘bulk buy’ scheme.

Wigan Council has joined forces with the nine other councils in Greater Manchester to negotiate bargain prices for gas and electricity.

Council bosses say anyone taking part should get cheaper bills from next February. They say the energy collective would be the biggest of its kind in the country.

The town halls would use the bargaining power of tens of thousands of customers to negotiate for better deals.

They say that the more people who join, the higher the potential saving, – and they are already talking to other local authorities in a bid to get them to join.

The scheme has been pioneered in Belgium but Greater Manchester is leading the way in Britain.

Cllr David Molyneux, Deputy Leader of Wigan Council, said: “Everyone is feeling the pinch when it comes to energy bills especially after the latest price hikes.

“Wigan Council, with its Greater Manchester partners, want to help tackle this by using the power of collective bargaining.

“We believe that we will achieve more together than everyone having to fend for themselves - especially as finding the best energy price can be very confusing.

“A no obligation energy switching scheme is an excellent way for Wigan people to band together and help get a better deal from the energy companies. We are looking to get details out very soon.”

With average annual energy bills now topping £1,300, the scheme could give cash-strapped families a significant saving. The town halls will apply for funding from the Department for Energy and Climate Change to promote the scheme, which already has the backing of government.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, said: “Energy bills are high and a concern for families and businesses. Bringing people together through co-operative deals, we can help people move the market so they get a better deal.

“With energy prices going up, I think everybody wants to see how they can cut their bills, so I would urge people across Greater Manchester to look at this fantastic scheme and consider signing up.”

Wigan Council say details of how to get involved will be published in the near future.

Consumers have been hit by a series of price hikes from energy companies.

David Cameron annouced plans to reduce energy bills over the coming years.