Jon Clemo, Norfolk RCC Chief Executive talked about the scheme’s operation to date:
- The community focus of the scheme, operated with local coordinators.
- Currently 1,400 members and growing rapidly
- 35 communities
- Savings of between 8-11% on average £120 a year
- Everybody pays the same price no matter how much they order – helping the most vulnerable the most
- Operates monthly but with the option to buy at any time. This strikes a balance between greater savings and convenience for members.
- The scheme was helping stimulate wider community activity and supporting the friendly eyes and ears that look out for people.
- Jon Clemo also said that they were looking to the future to both grow the scheme in term of members but also offer a wider range of collective purchasing options.
The local co-ordinator for the Thinking Fuel scheme in Colby and Banningham reported back. He had sought feedback on the performance of the scheme locally. Of those that responded:
- 13% said they had been offered a better deal by their regular oil supplier
- 13% reported that there was little difference between the prices offered by Thinking Fuel and their regular oil supplier
- 63% said they were pleased with the saving made through the scheme and with how it had operated
- 13% stated that they would support the scheme even if their regular supplier could offer a better price, to support what Norfolk RCC stood for
- The scheme is of the people, by the people and for the people. It exemplifies the three roles of NRCC, “Community Support, Rural Advocacy and Developing Solutions”
- It was backed by the Parish Council
- It is a “win, win” scheme which is simple to operate; it allows for flexibility in ordering and it has credible backing
- Community schemes which encourage a “think local” approach often result in a higher premium being paid by the members – this does not
- • It has a human face both locally and regionally and encourages cooperation and communication”
Jeremy Philippi from AF Affinity talked about the opportunities for collective purchase and their position as a subsidiary of Anglia Framers one of the largest agricultural buying cooperatives.
· Jeremy emphasised that as well as obvious products such as oil, coal, wood fuel, the opportunities were much wider and less obvious, items from vehicles to maintenance services. This led onto an interactive e-voting session looking at the future of the scheme. Summary results of this are:
- 100% saw collective purchase as good for communities.
- When asked what they saw as the main benefits, the top answer was financial savings (31%), but 22% said it helped highlight important social issues and 19% said it helped bring the community together.
- Renewable technology and other utilities came top in terms of the desire for future products
- Community buildings and community groups should be the main target groups going forward
With best wishes,
Norman Lamb MP