With the costs of food, clothing and energy all on the increase, Derek is calling on constituents to winter-proof their homes and their finances to keep energy costs down.
Currently, around £1 of every £4 spent on heating our homes is wasted because of a lack of adequate insulation. And with over 6 million cavity walls unfilled, and 10 million lofts left unlagged, huge amounts of money are being wasted.
"If people in Halton take action and get the free energy efficiency that they are entitled to, then they can save themselves hundreds of pounds every year. If they act now they can be ready long before winter reallly sets in."
British Gas customers can take advantage of the company's offer to insulate their homes free if they apply before 22nd December 2011. Customers on lower income, whoever their supplier is, can also call a special helpline to see if they are eligible for free insulation or discounted bills (the Home Heat Helpline is 0800 980 8177).
As well as winter-proofing their homes, Derek also urges constituents to winter-proof their finances by applying for all the benefits they are entitled to receive. £1 in every £4 of the benefits available go unclaimed - a staggering £12.7 billion a year. The largest pots available are income support, pension credit, housing benefit, council tax benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance. However, there are a host of other benefits, including a new Warm Homes Discount, which will give every person on pension credit an energy bill rebate of £120.
With more than 50 state benefits available, it can be an absolute minefield for anyone trying to claim what is actually legally theirs", Derek warns. "Charities such as Citizen's Advice and Age UK are able to talk you through what you may be eligible for and even apply on your behalf - I would urge people to give them a call or drop into one of their centres."
Derek recently met with these charities at an Open Day at the House of Commons, where he discussed what support was available for stretched household budgets during the winter months.
"There are a number of ways you can cut bills and claim benefits if you speak to the experts", Derek added. He recommends an online Benefit Check tool by Charity Turn2Us: http://turn2us/org.uk/benefits_search.aspx