Council and Citizens Advice Southwark launch energy savers service
15 December 2022
At the heart of the cost of living crisis is the impact spiralling energy costs have had on people. As very cold weather sets in, sadly more and more people are struggling to heat their homes.
On 8 November, at Southwark Council’s Cost of Living summit, Leader of Southwark Council, Kieron Williams announced a new energy saving advice service, run by Citizen’s Advice Southwark, and expanding on the services it already offers. The new scheme, which began at the beginning of the month, will run until 31 March next year.
Last week, Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for communities, equalities and finance, visited the scheme to speak to those on the front line of supporting people during such difficult times. Paolo Silvestri and Finlay Anderson (pictured with Cllr Cryan) are trained in ways to support people who are struggling to pay the bills, to gently talk them through their finances and how they can save money and stay warm. Either at the warm and welcoming offices of Citizens Advice Southwark, or as a friendly voice on the phone, people can find ways to cope when times are hard.
Citizens Advice Southwark helped 20,000 clients on 45,000 issues last year across its three sites and over the phone or online. Their existing energy advice service gave advice to 227 residents in 2021/22. This was almost twice as many as in 2020/21. Demand for the service has risen this year as energy prices and inflation have increased, more people have struggled to pay the bills and more find themselves edging towards fuel poverty. Energy advice now accounts for 16 per cent of all enquiries dealt with by Citizens Advice Southwark – the third biggest source of demand, where previously that number was just 2 per cent in 2020/21, rising to 4 per cent the year after.
Cllr Cryan said: “People are in such dire situations right now – there’s a huge wealth divide in Southwark and the number of those who are struggling is increasing – with many people, even those who are paid a decent salary, finding it very hard to afford the bills. The support at Citizens Advice Southwark is superb – you can feel the relief that people who come along must feel, that there is someone there to listen and to help. I am very grateful to be able to work with the excellent team at Citizens Advice Southwark, and to provide the help people need in Southwark.”
Finlay said: “We’re used to seeing people who are unemployed, but we’re increasingly meeting people with good jobs who are also struggling to support themselves or their families. We offer income maximisation advice and ways to tackle debt, but we do see those who above the benefit cap really struggling.”
Paolo said: “We still meet a few people who didn’t know that there’re entitled to schemes which can help them out financially with energy bills, Government support, or ways to keep their home better insulated. It’s well worth getting in touch if you’re concerned your supply might be cut off or you need practical advice.”
Anyone can approach the service if they are worried about affording their fuel bills. More information: Get energy help with the Southwark Energy Savers Service - Southwark Council
Page last updated: 15 December 2022