Tenants living in the 'Chips building' in New Islington got in touch with us recently asking for our help with issues going back to last October, leaving many of them in fuel poverty.

The Chips Building described by it's owners Urban Splash as “…one of the most significant buildings in Manchester” has become synonymous with bad management and shocking profiteering.

Tenants in the building faced a 300% energy price hike last winter after their supplier, CNG, went bust and they were appointed a new supplier who is charging them the commercial rate for their energy.

The residents, a combination of tenants and leaseholders, were given no say in the selection of the new provider, Pozitive Energy. Positive Energy do have a residential tariff, but they consider the Chips building to be a business address.

On a commercial tariff the residents are not eligible for the April energy price cap and the building management company, RMG, billing providers Switch2 and Pozitive Energy have been giving them the runaround since last November with each claiming it isn't their responsibility.

One tenant told us:
“my flatmate and I rent a mid-sized, 2 bed flat (EPC rating C) , and neither of us work from home - last month we were billed £177 for energy, and did not use the heating once in that period. Prior to our tariff change, a typical bill was around £70 (also without heating use).”

The shared heating system in the building has been the source of many problems since last October - months without hot water or heating, and residents being told different stories about the cause of the problems by the metering and billing company, Switch2. Despite this, the residents pay an exorbitant standing charge for maintenance of the heating system, which tenants who form the majority of residents should not be liable for.

This situation, where a complicated web of companies provide an essential service, upon which they all make a profit, and who simply blame each other when problems arise is a common feature in Britain today.

The Chips tenants have now asked GMTU for help with their issues and we're confident that with us alongside them, it won't be long before the chips are down for the companies involved.

Image: © Copyright David Dixon