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Twickenham's short circuit to business energy savings

Twickenham MP, Vince Cable, is lending his support to a campaign that aims to knock £500,000 off the energy bills for small businesses and charities in his constituency over the next year

Twickenham MP, Vince Cable, is lending his support to a campaign that aims to knock £500,000 off the energy bills for small businesses and charities in his constituency over the next year.

The campaign is being coordinated by Make It Cheaper, a business utility switching advice service run by Teddington resident, Chris Cole, from a 100 seat call centre in Waterloo, Central London. The focus of the campaign is to make local organisations aware of the automatic renewal process that is common with business energy contracts. Often referred to as the 'rollover trap', this takes place before an existing contract expires, legally binding the organisation into a new contract for at least a year, without their consent and often at higher prices.

According to Make It Cheaper, only half of organisations nationwide are aware of the rollover trap and only two in ten are aware of receiving their renewal letters - this being the only warning an energy supplier is obliged to give that the contract is about to be rolled.

Not only is Make It Cheaper bringing attention to the rollover trap - and advising on the steps required to avoid it - but it is lobbying for changes that will ultimately level the playing field for energy contract renewals. For example, it is calling for suppliers to print contract end dates on bills and send renewal letters by Recorded Delivery. This initiative has won the support of hundreds of business energy users as well as MPs.*

Chris Cole, managing director of Make It Cheaper commented:

"Until the rules on rollovers change, it's really important for any business or charity to get into the habit of reviewing their energy contracts once a year. That's the message we want Twickenham to hear and, as we gain more support from other local MPs, we'll be spreading it out nationally. It's our goal to turn savings of £500,000 for Twickenham into £500 million for the UK by 2014."

To date, nearly 300 local businesses and charities in Twickenham have used Make It Cheaper's free and impartial service to avoid the rollover trap and either switch to a new energy supplier or negotiate a lower price with their existing one. See case study below. To hit the target of £500,000 being saved on energy bills within the next 12 months, a further 300 organisations are required to take evasive action and avoid being rolled at their next renewal.

For any businesses or charities interested, a launch event - Save Money, Make Money - takes place at The Albany near Twickenham Station 6-8pm on Thursday 6th September. This is free-to-attend and will include a Q&A with Vince Cable and a surgery with expert advisors to find the best deals on energy as well as their business telecoms, insurance and merchant services (chip&pin).

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Case Study The Albany in Queens Road is currently paying 10.6p/unit for its electricity… well below the national average for a pub. In fact, based on its consumption, this equates to a saving of £3,600 a year against the 16p/unit rate that its previous supplier would have liked it to pay when it attempted to roll the Albany's director - Barbara Wardle - into a new contract back in January 2012. Fortunately Barbara had already come across Make It Cheaper's free and impartial service and so she knew exactly how to play the renewal game … and win one over on her energy suppliers.

Waterloo-based savings expert - Perry Cladingboel - spoke to Barbara as soon as she had received the renewal letter from Npower and arranged the switch to Opus Energy during a 15-minute phone call. "Perfect service, speedy response", says Barbara - who will now get a reminder from Make It Cheaper whenever it's time to re-engage in the contract renewal game for either of The Albany's gas or electricity meters. This lets her get on the day-to-day business of growing her top line, safe in the knowledge that someone else is keeping an eye on the renewal dates and helping her to protect the bottom line. "Service is excellent. Knowledge is paramount. I now rely on you to remind me when my contracts are due to expire."