1 in 10 people, or 5 million British adults, have less than £10 a month left over once they have paid their essential bills.
At the same time people on the lowest incomes often end up paying more for essential goods and services. The biggest part of this comes from not being switched to the best fuel tariff.
Through working in housing associations this year we've seen first hand that people are struggling with expenses, and getting into debt or behind on rent payments as a result. While we saw support being offered for benefits and jobs, there was little to support people with household bills, and accessing the discounts they were eligible for.
There are big opportunities to save through switching providers, and there are a lot of bill switching services out there. But they are predominantly online and appeal to already engaged consumers.
We are taking a completely different approach by offering a free phone service.
Time - Shopping around for better deals takes time, particularly if you’re not used to it. That's why we address all household bills within one call.
Technology - Most bill switching services are online. By offering a phone service, we can reach people who wouldn’t use switching websites. We can also answer their questions about what tariffs and contracts mean.
Trust - Our customers are referred to us through Housing Associations who already have an established relationship with their residents. By working with Housing Associations, Local Authorities and Jobcentres, we also ensure we are reaching the people who would benefit most from our support.
Household bills typically cost £2,600 a year. We are reducing some families' bills by at least 20%.
That means instead of people having £10 left at the end of the month they’d have £45. This impact on people’s lives is huge.
People told us they would be able to pay off a loan, save for a rainy day, and buy their son a birthday present with this money.
We deploy the information that households need to take back their financial power. We are coaching customers on how to deal with pushy call centres, digital barriers, and getting them savvy to different deals.
"Pocket Power has identified a gap in our thinking about digital inclusion. It is not only about access to, and knowing how to use, tech. Increasingly, it is about having the time, the confidence and the motivation to understand complex utility products. Poplar HARCA’s residents have already saved thousands of pounds, and been reassured by Gervase, Fiona and Louis guiding them through the process. Pocket Power deserves support because of the significant difference it will make."
-- Andrea Baker, Director of Housing, Poplar HARCA.
"Gervase went through all my bills with me and explained the discounts I could get. He phoned a couple of them up and did some of the legwork and actually got me money off. I’d definitely recommend it to other people. There are people who are paying a lot on their bills and are not realising they can save money, like by getting a discount on their water bill. That bit of money can go on other bills or other things that people need."
-- Poplar HARCA resident
Once we are established, Pocket Power will operate as a social enterprise. We will earn commission from the suppliers we switch customers to. This is the same rate from all suppliers, meaning our priority will always be getting residents on the best deal for them.
Over the next 3 months, your donations will fund:
- Launching our service with two more housing associations
- Service design project, working with residents to improve our service
- Development of our call software
- Laying the groundwork to recruit staff
- A £20 donation will fund 1 customer call, saving them an average of £420
- A £100 donation will fund 5 customer calls, collectively saving them £2,100
- A £250 donation will fund 13 customer calls, collectively saving them £5,460
We are a team of 3 co-founders.
Fiona worked with Orbit Housing Association this year, where she saw the challenges people face in juggling costs, particularly when starting a new tenancy. With her background in research, Fiona will lead our service design; ensuring customer needs are at the heart of Pocket Power.
Gervase brings a wealth of experience, having worked in energy and fuel poverty policy for the Government for 6 years. Last year he worked at Poplar HARCA in East London, applying his behavioural science background to develop innovative ways of saving residents money.
Louis has worked in finance, media and the public sector. He currently works within the strategy team at Camden Council. Using his breadth of experience across these sectors, he’ll be leading our operations. He will ensure the cogs within Pocket Power run as smoothly as possible so we have a sustainable business and create maximum impact for our customers.
NB: A 4.75% levy will be applied to donations, to help cover TFN/Year Here's costs of supporting venture fundraising and administering the funding.