Labour to launch drive to cut electricity bills for thousands of families


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A drive to cut electricity bills for thousands of families from next year will be launched today by Labour at the start of its annual conference.

The party to encourage consumers to club together to negotiate lower tariffs - and is promising to target poorer families that would otherwise be hard to reach.

The Government has been promoting the concept of "collective switching", but Labour will become the first British political party to launch an initiative to enable people to bulk-purchase electricity. It aims to roll out the programme nationally next year.

Caroline Flint, the shadow Climate Change Secretary, said: "By harnessing the power of our grassroots network and Labour councils, we can be a vehicle for people coming together to negotiate a fairer deal with the energy companies. Because people are doing this together, they'll have more leverage than just doing it on their own."

A youth employment taskforce will also be unveiled. It will bring together businesses, trade unionists, council leaders and academics in jobs blackspots to pool ideas and to set up jobs fairs.

Party sources said they were determined to find ways of making an immediate impact on people's lives, rather than simply debating policies that could be implemented after the next general election in 2015.

Ed Miliband, the party leader, will today deliver a grim warning of the "economic emergency" facing the country. He will say: "We are at risk of a decade-long decline in living standards. For millions of families, the prospects feel bleaker now than for 50 years, since the Second World War."

The Manchester conference - whose slogan is Rebuilding Britain - will feature appearances by teachers, doctors, nurses and business leaders, as well as Olympians including boxing gold medalist Nicola Adams.