Community Oil in the North

Community Oil in the
November 20th 2013
• October 2012 – March 2013
• The Project attempted to addresses all 3 causes of fuel
– Cost of fuel - through brokering
– Level of Income - through benefit maximization and
– Energy Efficiency – through advice in the home and
referral to Bryson Energy Advice Freephone
• Bryson Energy, Consumer Council for NI, Fold
Housing Association, NEA, Derry City Council, Derry
Credit Union, NIHE (advisory)
• Oil Federation suppliers who had signed the
Consumer Council Customer Charter
• To negotiate a reduction for all orders of heating oil
• To negotiate smaller deliveries to tenants in fixed
areas at no financial penalty
• To reduce the need to budget by purchasing oil
expensively in plastic containers
• To encourage householders to utilise Credit Union
accounts to save for oil/utility bills.
• To encourage other Credit Unions in the North-West
to use their combined strength to get reduced prices
for all their members
Why Oil ?
• Unregulated - no transparency on pricing
• 68% households in NI (Rural – 76%)
• Bryson’s cost benefit analysis showed – successful
implementation of oil brokering – could have a major
impact on fuel poverty
• Studies by University of Ulster had shown potential
savings of 20-22% by bulk buying
• Budgeting – a need to develop more flexible payment
methods that address its high price and fluctuations
Oil Price trends in NI 2009- 2013
Note: 900 litres of oil increased from less than £300 in 2009 to over £600
earlier this year i.e. doubled in price in four years.
The latest Sutherland Tables (Oct 1013) estimate that the cost of heating an
average 3 bedroom house is approx £1,600 per annum – approx 3 fills of oil.
(£1,300 with condensing boiler).
Derry this week…..
• 200 litres of heating oil in Derry costs 61p per litre
compared to 55ppl i.e. 6ppl cheaper when you buy
900 litres in bulk
• £54 extra to buy 900 litres in smaller lots or approx
£162 per year for a fuel poor family (3 fills per year)
just to budget
• Householders are also being charged up to £10 extra
for using their credit card.
• Plastic containers – even more expensive and
dangerous means of budgeting – but supplier has no
delivery costs.
Bryson Energy Project
• Press Release - Sept 2012
• Oil federation suppliers invited to take part – i.e. those
who signed the Consumer Council Customer Charter
• Two approaches – 1) For Fold residents leafleted selected
areas – residents enrol for project
• Bryson collected contact details (preferably text), fuel
usage, typical size of oil order, normal method of
payment and (whether or not they were Credit Union
• 2) For Credit Union – referral system using CU web-site,
facebook and big screens
Bryson Energy Project
Fold residents notified of call for oil
Notified oil needs to Bryson
Bryson request prices for bulk load from local suppliers
Suppliers supply best price by given date and valid
period of offer
• Preferred supplier selected for that week
• Fold residents and Credit Union notified immediately of
cheapest supplier and confirmed price per litre and the
time limit
Additional benefits
• Free and independent energy advice and information
0800 14 22 865
• Referral to any relevant energy efficiency grants /
incentives e.g. homeowners
• Benefits assessments to maximise incomes.
• Trading Standards Service – minimum legal load =
500 litres
• Price based on bulk order – cancellations can affect
• VAT for domestic customers – 5% < 2,300 litres
• Local jobs - Oil Federation members and customer
charter - small local suppliers may not be signed up
• Price contract between resident and oil supplier
• Quality assurance – check deliveries accuracy
• Big interest raised across NI in oil schemes – interest
by media, Councils, fuel poverty/community groups
• Possible to broker savings
• Same price per litre for 500L as 900L – achievable
• Identified real need for cheap budgeting methods for
fuel poor as brokered price is not enough on its own
• Credit Union initiatives need broadened and
developed as CU has cheapest loans
• Not everyone is a Credit Union member
• Between 2.2p – 7p per litre against our Consumer
Council benchmark
• Average of 3p per litre less than the preferred
supplier’s own advertised local price
• Average savings of £11 - £35 on 500 litre order or
£66 - £210 for average family (3,000 litres) per
• Plastic container price can be 10ppl + in excess of
bulk price - £300 extra per annum
• Trading Standards 500L rule hampered uptake
• Fuel poor householders unable to buy 500
litres @£300
• When removed - we received more orders
• Large oil suppliers refused to co-operate
• Non federation members – more quotations
• Fuel poor are paying dearly for the privilege of
budgeting for oil – credit card fees, loyalty
schemes, Paypoint, oil drums, etc.
Objectives going forward…
• To develop an integrated system to support
people in not only getting a fair price for fuel
but also in getting a fair price in budgeting for
their fuel.
• To persuade the Credit Union movement to
promote low cost loan options specifically for
the payment of fuel bills.
Belfast Pilot - ongoing
• To assist 300 households (particularly fuel poor) to
buy oil at a reduced price
• Two locations - Ardoyne in North Belfast and
Cregagh in East Belfast)
• Officially launched on International Credit Union
day 17th October 2013
• Partnership with local community groups, political
parties, local businesses, credit unions, housing
providers etc.
• Average Savings – Month ONE – 4.95p per litre
Thank you
Laurence Arbuckle
Senior Manager
[email protected]

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