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A FEW weeks ago, I wrote a column about the Council’s new Community Collective Energy Switching scheme which aims to give everyone a cheaper deal with their energy supplier.

Most stories we see about local government at the moment are doom and gloom.

They are either about huge cuts to services, job losses or closures so it makes a refreshing change that we are able to over a scheme to the public that is very likely to both save people money and take the hassle out of switching energy suppliers.

The scheme is open now and people can either sign up over the internet by visiting the Council’s website or phone the customer contact centre.

The process only takes a few minutes, just make sure you have the information about your current energy deal with you, and you will be signed up to our collective energy switch scheme.

Sign up runs until April 8 and is open to anyone, even people who don’t live in Hartlepool.

The more people sign up to the scheme, the cheaper the energy deal will be for everyone on it. It really is a no brainer and there are no hidden catches.

On April 9 we will then auction our custom to the energy supplier market to get the cheapest deal available at the time.

Everyone on the scheme will then be offered the opportuntiy to take the deal and if is is favourable, the switch to the new supplier will be made for them.

If the deal is not as attractive as they had hoped or for any reason, they do not want to accept it, they can refuse and stay with their existing supplier.

There is absolutely no obligation to proceed and no cost for rejecting the deal.

If you haven’t switched energy suppliers for a long time, I can virtually guarantee that there will be a cheaper deal on the market.

Energy suppliers, insurance companies and the likes offer good incentives to get people to sign up then rely on the fact that most people can’t be bothered to keep changing companies so inevitably the deal runs out after 12 months or better deals are offered to other new customers but don’t apply to existing ones.

Everyone will welcome saving a few pounds extra in the current climate and this really is one of the easiest ways to do so.

I signed up over the internet last week and the number of people who had signed up on the scheme at that time was just under 5,500.

At the time of writing, yesterday lunchtime, we were a few people short of the 10,000 mark.

The numbers aren’t bad but they could be a whole lot better. We will be having a big push to get people to join over the next few weeks and it is in everyone’s interest to encourage as many as possible to follow suit.

Get your friends and relatives to join, encourage you work colleagues to do the same. Tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter. The more we sign up, the more valuable the scheme will be to the bidders and therefore the cheaper the bills to the customers.

I’ve been asked if businesses can sign up to the scheme but at the moment it is for domestic households only.

We will be pushing to allow businesses to come on board at a later date however, especially given we have some very high users in our Borough which would help decrease bills even further.

Watch this space for developments in the future.