Free Bills and Budgeting Advice for Older Biddulph Residents

Biddulph’s older residents can benefit from advice on lowering their household bills and budgeting at a free course run by a charity. Marches Energy Agency are running the Live4Less course at Biddulph Resource and Information Centre in February and March 2014. There are just 12 places available for anyone aged 50 and over, and they can be booked by contacting Caroline Harmon on 07748 5087704 or

Live4Less will run over three sessions (17th Feb, 24th Feb and 4th March) and is ideal for anyone who is worried about paying their energy bills and staying warm this winter, or concerned about making ends meet. It will also be useful for anyone who would like to help their friends and family who are struggling. 

The course is free to those attending thanks to The Innovation Fund from the Beth Johnson Foundation and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

Caroline Harmon, Project Manager at Marches Energy Agency, said:

‘This course has saved others a significant amount of money – one person saved £80 per month by re-negotiating contracts and using energy efficiency techniques. It is informal and interactive; we will look at simple ways of cutting your energy use and food bills, and ways of budgeting to make sure you don’t run out of money. Everyone attending will be encouraged to share their own “tips and tricks” for living well for less.

Energy-saving: it’s a social thing

With energy bills again rising and the winter approaching, researchers from Keele University and Marches Energy Agency have found a positive way of helping householders to keep their energy costs down and houses warm. 

Energy prices will continue to rise for British consumers and the government can do little about it, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has warned.  The Lib Dem minister told the BBC he accepted that prices would go up, and some of the costs causing the rises were ‘impossible to avoid’.

A multidisciplinary team of scientists and social scientists at Keele, headed by Professor Andrew Dobson, along with Simon Ross from Shrewsbury based charity; Marches Energy Agency has worked for two years with households in Shrewsbury and Newcastle-under-Lyme on low-cost and low-tech approaches to saving energy.

The Reducing Energy Consumption through Community Knowledge Networks (RECCKN) project team found that consumers are sceptical of the commercial motives of the Big Six energy companies, and are much more likely to trust advice that comes from friends, family, local companies and organisations, and the third sector.

Face-to-face discussion helps to cut through the often confusing range of offers and information with which consumers are bombarded, and the chance to ask questions provides the detailed advice and reassurance often absent from leaflets and other forms of written advice. As one householder commented, ‘It’s a minefield out there, so you end up doing nothing because there is so much choice’.

Participants speak for themselves in a 14-minute video – ‘Energy-saving: it’s a social thing’ - that can be seen here:

As a result of the research, Marches Energy Agency, a local third sector organisation, has developed an energy advice service offering householders face to face and telephone advice on how to reduce energy; switch utilities and obtain government grants for energy efficiency.

Contact us on 0800 1123 743 or email

Free budgeting workshop in Biddulph

  • Worried about paying your energy bills and staying warm this winter?
  • Not sure how to make your income cover your basic needs?
  • want to help others who are struggling?
Join us for a free Live4Less course.  You will gain the skills and knowledge needed to live well within your financial means and help others to do the same.
For anyone over 50
  • Budgeting
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Volunteering
Biddulph Resource Information Centre
17th and 24th February and 4th March 2014 (3 different sessions)
Limited places available
Contact or call 07748 508704

Government grants to help cover the cost of winter fuel bills

Warm Homes Discount

The government’s Warm Homes Discount scheme is now in its third year. This year the grant has risen to £135 off the energy bills to those that qualify. There are two main groups that qualify. The ‘Core Group’ is those in receipt of the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit. Provided the claimant or their partner was named on their energy bill as of 20th July 2013 they will automatically qualify. Those over 75 in receipt of either element of Pension Credit will also qualify. If this applies to you then you should receive a letter before February next year (2014) telling you one of two possible messages. The first is that you qualify and don’t need to do anything else.  The other possibility is that it will say that you qualify but that you need to register with your electricity supplier by 14 March 2014. Anyone on this benefit that has not received this letter by February 2013 should contact the helpline on 0845 603 9439 or contact their electricity provider.

The second group is called the ‘Broader Group’. Eligibility for this element is set by the individual electricity providers. Most electricity providers that supply more than 250,000 households will be offering the discount but each sets its own criteria and the numbers of customers they wish to help. This element is decided on a first come, first served basis and some schemes are already booking up so if you think you might qualify contact your electricity supplier NOW! 


Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born before the 5th January 1952 you could qualify for between £100 and £300 tax free. If you receive state pension or certain social security benefits you should qualify automatically. If you have not had the payment before or do not receive state pension or are on Housing Benefit, Child benefit or Council Tax Reduction you will need to apply. For more information call 08459 151515

To find out what you are eligible for call us on 0800 1123 743 or email 

New Affordable Warmth Scheme for Shropshire

Our new service (eco@mea) helps householders to improve the energy efficiency of their homes to keep them warmer and reduce their energy bills. 

Our qualified energy efficiency advisers can provide information on all aspects of energy efficiency from the installation of major measures like changes to heating systems to simple lifestyle changes such as turning off appliances.  We can also advise on energy tariffs and switching suppliers.

We offer up to date information on the latest grants and government schemes, the two major schemes being the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal. Our information is accompanied with safe and easy routes to trusted installers for those that qualify for grants or those that wish to fund measures themselves (should they not be eligible for full grant support).

Both these schemes are extremely complex.  Fortunately, we have already gathered vast knowledge and experience by undertaking projects for a number of Local Authorities and by working closely with installers to understand how the scheme works in practice. We are also working with community energy groups; Age UK; and the Citizens Advice Bureau.  To find out if you are eligible or for further information email or call 0800 1123 743