Kenneth Gibson MSP formally launched Cunninghame Housing Association's (CHA's) new social enterprise, Citrus Energy Ltd, at a ceremony held on Friday 11th October 2013 in Ardrossan.
Citrus Energy Ltd, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cunninghame Housing Association, and operates under the ethos of being 'Refreshingly Different'. Frank Sweeney, CHA's Chief Executive said:
"Citrus Energy has four parts to its business:
- Citrus Switch
- Lemon Aid
- Citrus for Business
- Citrus Void Management
"Citrus Energy anticipates that domestic customers will find there is a potential to save, on average, more than £208 per annum by using the Citrus switching service. Citrus Advisors will be on hand to demystify the process, correspond with energy suppliers on behalf of customers from start to finish and provide ongoing handholding support. The service is 100% impartial and shows every energy price from every energy supplier currently available. If customers already have the best deal available to them Citrus Advisors will confirm that for them and offer to automatically review tariffs every six months to ensure customers remain on the best deal."
Cunninghame Housing Association has secured £259,000 from the Big Lottery Support and Connect Fund and the Scottish Government's People and Communities Fund to support a new Financial Inclusion Team (FIT) until 31st March 2015 to tackle financial inclusion and fuel poverty issues within local communities in Ayrshire.
The Financial Inclusion Team will include a Financial Inclusion Officer to be employed by the association. They will provide money advice services to CHA tenants and local residents experiencing money and debt problems, as well as undertaking benefit and income maximisation checks and offering debt advice and advocacy services.
CHA, with the support of Citrus Energy, has created the Lemon Aid project which will offer:
- a 'hand holding' switch service to all domestic customers in Ayrshire
- home visits to vulnerable residents experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty providing them with home energy advice
- negotiating with utility companies on service users' behalf,
- ensuring tenants are receiving energy suppliers' most advantageous tariffs
- liaising with housing staff to address issues of home energy efficiency
Lemon Aid will employ a team of call handlers, home advisors and admin support, providing paid training and employment opportunities for unemployed residents.
Lemon Aid will be delivered in partnership with other housing associations and the local authorities in Ayrshire.
Speaking at the launch of Citrus Energy, Kenneth Gibson MSP for Cunninghame North endorsed the initiative shown by Cunninghame Housing Association in establishing the new venture. He said:
"The growing pressure faced by households throughout the country from rising fuel bills is only too apparent. Citrus Energy is therefore a hugely welcome resource for people to tap into. As well as generating substantial financial savings on energy, Citrus is also providing a further much needed boost to the Ayrshire labour market in terms of job creation, with the majority of these posts filled by unemployed local residents. This is a great example of social enterprise in action – taking an innovative approach to addressing fuel poverty, supporting other social enterprises and creating jobs in the process."
Pictured: The Citrus Energy launch