Portsmouth City Council is encouraging the city’s residents to contact a new freephone advice line if they face issues with paying their energy bills, as part of the Switched On Portsmouth service. The line will be established using grant funding from the Energy Redress scheme; with the phones being manned by advisors from the Environment Centre, an environmental charity who specialise in energy advice.
It is expected that 1,200 households will use the service over the next two years, helping with issues such as billing queries, energy efficiency advice and income maximisation support. The advice line will also be used as a conduit to a range of other services offered by Switched On Portsmouth.
The cost of electricity and gas has risen significantly over recent years, with many households finding it increasingly difficult to afford to pay their energy bills. Simple advice, offered by the Switched On Portsmouth freephone line advisors, can have the effect of making a dramatic dent in household outgoings. The service aims to save Portsmouth residents £200,000.
The freephone advice line will be an important tool for residents looking to combat rising fuel bills; particularly in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. To ensure services continue to reach residents during this period, Switched On Portsmouth moved a number of its services online, as home visits ceased to be an option.
Improvements to the website, virtual drop-ins and a virtual one-on-one ‘Energy Doctor’ were all developed in order to get households the help they needed during the lockdown period.
Councillor Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said of the new service, “Too many households in Portsmouth are forced to make a choice between heating and eating. Having been in the situation myself in the past, I can speak with experience about what an awful choice this is to make. I hope that this freephone advice line, along with the range of other services offered by the council, will go some way to alleviating this issue; with residents able to receive practical, unbiased and specialist advice about how they can reduce their energy bills.”
Switched On Portsmouth offers a range of support related to home energy including free home visits, insulation, emergency boiler replacements and free first-time central heating. To see the full range of services, visit www.switchedonportsmouth.co.uk or call the freephone advice line on 0800 260 5907.