CHEAPER gas and electricity could be on the way for thousands of families.

Calderdale Council is looking at creating a community fuel buying fund to tackle fuel poverty.

The council could soon be among the first local authorities in the country to sign up to collective purchasing and offer a scheme which will allow all residents to buy cheaper gas and electricity.

Town hall bosses can take advantage of a collective energy bulk-purchasing scheme.

Elland’s Clr David Hardy is chair of the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel which is leading a bid to tender fuel companies to supply Calderdale.

Calderdale is following the lead of a Cambridgeshire and Lancashire local authority, who are also exploring the idea.

They will ask energy firms to bid for the right to fuel the fund – and the more people signed up to it the better deal they can get from energy companies.

Clr Hardy said: “Next Friday we’ll be submitting the application for a community fund for energy purchasing.

“It’s got to be done by March so it all has to be done very, very quickly, but we need to move quick to tackle winter fuel poverty.

“This is for everyone, but it will help people who pay by putting money in the meter or with a key. Those in social housing who might be paying 17% or 18% more – they will get the benefit of community buying.

“Energy suppliers will want our business and it will be on our terms, the more people we have signed up to it the better price we can get it at.

“I think we’ll be the first in West Yorkshire to do something like this, but there are other councils in Peterborough and Preston who are doing it too.

“Community buying may be the best way we can tackle fuel poverty in the authority area for a long time to come.

“As a community project this could be massive.”

Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has launched a £5m competition open to local authorities wanting to take up the scheme.

Clearer details on how it will work locally will emerge once Calderdale submits the application, but it will be open to all residents.

A similar scheme, Cornwall Together, has seen 20,000 Cornish people buy energy together in a collective switch, saving each family £200 a year.

Between 2008-2011 over 7,800 Calderdale households were supported with a range of measures to combat fuel poverty.

A household is in fuel poverty if they need to spend more than 10% of household income to achieve a satisfactory heating regime of 21ºC in the living room and 18ºC in other occupied rooms.

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