Southend Council partners with company engulfed in controversy for energy supply

The council’s energy company formed to help people save money by switching provider has officially partnered with a not-for-profit supplier in Nottingham, despite the company being plagued with problems over the past 12 months.

Southend Energy is operated by the council but will now get its supply from the Nottingham Council-created Robin Hood Energy.

The council has said the partnership will help “fight against fuel poverty” and the partnership has gone ahead despite Robin Hood Energy’s year of instability that almost caused the firm to have its licence revoked by the energy regulator.

Last year, Nottingham Council had to loan the firm £9.4million after it failed to pay green subsidies to Ofgem and its senior executive team was later replaced.

The company’s annual accounts that are due to be published have also been delayed until the end of March and in an annual survey of energy suppliers by the consumer choice organisation Which? Robin Hood Energy had the biggest fall of any company from number 2 to number 20.

Which? said the survey found that “while Robin Hood customers were generally positive about value for money and billing, a smaller proportion of people said they would recommend the firm compared to last year”.

But Southend Council has said it chose to partner with the firm due to its “purpose to put ‘people before profit’ and because of their mission to help tackle fuel poverty”.

It explained that the company does not have private shareholders or pay any director bonuses so any savings will be passed on to the customer and the community. A ‘vulnerability team’ will also be setup to give extra support to Southend Energy’s most vulnerable customers.

Councillor Carole Mulroney (Lib Dem), who oversees the environment, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this partnership which will help our customers and our continuing fight against fuel poverty in Southend.

“At a time when families find it hard to pay for energy bills, this partnership will offer low prices that ensure we are always trying to do what is in the best interest of our residents.”

The chairman of Robin Hood Energy, Neghat Khan, added: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Southend Energy and see this as a fantastic opportunity to further extend our reach in helping to tackle fuel poverty.”

The partnership has come after the five-year partnership between Ovo Energy and Southend Energy came to an end.

The council planned to extend the contract with Ovo but negotiations broke down and Ovo told the council they wanted to be released from their contract early, something that was not possible due to negotiations with Robin Hood.


Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter