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Essex households to team up to get lower energy bills

Essex County Council wants people to sign up to its energy switch scheme. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire.

People in Essex are being asked to sign up for a scheme which could save them money on household bills.

The Essex Energy Switch, run by Essex County Council, opens next week.

The scheme is free and aims to get a collective lower rate from energy companies for everyone who signs up.

Energy providers are encouraged to bid against each other in an auction to offer the lowest rate for gas and electricity contracts.

The initiative is open to both homeowners and tenants as well as any small or medium-sized business in the county.

Last year, more than 4,500 residents registered for the scheme. The council believes it could save households more than £200.

Debt charity says more families are struggling to make ends meet

Families are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

More and more families in our region are struggling to make ends meet, according to a national debt charity.

Step Change says more than 10,000 people in the East of England called their helpline last year - up 17% on the year before.

On average, those callers owed more than £12,000 in unsecured debt such as credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts.

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People in Essex urged to sign up to scheme which could save them money on their energy bills

The Essex Energy Switch, run by Essex County Council, opens next week. Credit: ITV News Anglia

People in Essex are being asked to sign up for a scheme which could save them money on household bills.

The Essex Energy Switch, run by Essex County Council, opens next week.

It's free, and the idea is that all those who enter get put into a collective to get lower rates from energy companies.

Lotus sales up 54% worldwide

The Group Lotus HQ at Hethel Credit: ITV News Anglia

Norfolk based car company Lotus says it's worldwide sales are up by more than fifty per-cent over the last nine months.

Last year the company announced plans to make up to three hundred workers redundant. However it says the latest figures show that their plans for the future are working.

The biggest sales increases have been in France, Germany, China and Japan.

Essex says cuts challenge will be tough

Essex County Council faces a £49m cut in government funding. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Essex County Council is facing the biggest cut in government funding in the Anglia region with nearly £49 million lopped off its budget.

Early assessments of the Local Government finance settlement, which sets out how much money each local authority will receive from the government in 2015/2016, indicate the Essex could be facing a cut of around 13 per cent on its funding.

“Every successive round of cuts makes the challenge harder. We have already secured so many efficiencies. We will continue to work creatively with our dedicated and innovative officers to find new solutions but make no mistake – it will be tough.”

– Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Finance, Essex County Council

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Councils in the Anglia region face 14% cuts in government funding

The government grant to councils in the Anglia region is being cut by 14% Credit: ITV News Anglia

Councils have warned that local authorities across England are being "pushed to breaking point" after the announcement of a new round of Government cuts which will force them to slice an estimated £2.6 billion from their budgets for next year.

The main grant from the government to local councils in the Anglia region is being cut by £323 million next year - a reduction of nearly 14%.

However the government says that the overall reduction in spending power for English councils will be 1.8%, with no council facing a loss of more than 6.4%.

The "spending power" figure includes other income that local councils receive like NHS grants, council tax and business rates and local fees and charges.

The Local Government Association said that the provisional finance settlement for 2015/16 amounted to an 8.8% cut in core central Government funding, bringing to 40% the total reduction in support since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Hospital's appeal for children's wards

Ipswich Hospital has launched a charity appeal to help raise £100,000 for the children's and neonatal wards.

The campaign will focus on providing extra comforts to patients and their families while they stay in hospital, like refurbishing the parent bay for parents to stay overnight, and buying new bedding for paediatric beds.

"The NHS is under huge financial challenge at the moment, and of course we will always provide the essential equipment and care for the patients and their families but this is just a little bit extra - the extra comfort, support that the babies, the children and their families need."

– Nick Hulme - Chief Executive, Ipswich Hospital

The hospital hopes to raise £100,000 over the next three months.

Click below to watch Hannah Pettifer's report.

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