FPA are campaigning for Energy For All, a universal, free band of energy to pay for necessities of heating, lighting and cooking. Please join over 600,000 people in signing our petition supporting the demand and share far and wide. Sign up for updates and to get involved!
We will be taking our petition to Downing Street on Wednesday 19th October at 2.30pm. We will assemble at George V Statue, Old Palace Yard, at 1pm to hear speeches. We hope you can join us on the day!
Can’t be there in person? Support #EnergyForAll from home by sharing social media content and joining our digital action. See our toolkit.
Fuel Poverty Action and Disabled People Against Cuts have together written to Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brierley about the gross injustice of the present standing charges, including loading the cost of failed suppliers onto this part of people’s bills.  They say
“It is appalling that yet again Ofgem is punishing low income customers for its own failed regulation and the upside down priorities of the energy industry. …This is consistent with the blinkered approach that has led you to give “too much benefit to companies at the expense of consumers”, in the words of Christine Farnish, the Ofgem director who resigned last week.
Ofgem has claimed (2) that high standing charges are the only way to protect high users, some of whom are people with health needs for electricity, eg for electrical medical equipment. But the two groups suggest that Ofgem’s obligation to vulnerable customers is being abused as an excuse for policies that impoverish and endanger thousands of people, including many who are disabled people. They name instead several alternative ways to protect people with high energy needs – without impoverishing vast numbers of low income customers.
With Fuel Poverty Action’s proposal of Energy For All (e4a) each household would be entitled, free, to enough energy to cover basic needs, but people would pay a higher tariff for what they use above that amount. This would offer much needed security to all – including those who need more because of their health, disabilities, housing conditions, or family size. It would be paid for by the higher per-unit tariff on excess use, by windfall taxes and by ending the millions of pounds now poured daily into fossil fuel subsidies.
Other options listed include extensions of the Warm Home Discount, social tariffs, better disability benefits, and good safe insulation for vulnerable customers. And they say that companies that cannot fulfil their purpose of providing the energy people need at a cost they can afford, could – and must – be brought back into public hands.
Ruth London from FPA comments,
“Instead of looking at real, proportionate, workable changes to the current upside down pricing framework, Ofgem has chosen to continue hitting low income users harder than affluent neighbours. The standing charge means that however much they cut down their usage many people will never be able to pay their bills.”
Paula Peters of DPAC says,
“I’m a low energy user because I am terrified to switch it on and worrying about costs all the time. It’s making me permanently anxious as it is all of us. Last winter I was in a lot of pain with a cold house. I needed NHS intervention: a steroid injection and a Nebuliser at A & E.”
On 26 May Rishi Sunak announced a £15 billion package of support for people struggling with energy bills, and although he didn’t dare say its name, a windfall tax on oil and gas companies’ current extraordinary profits.
The windfall tax, called a temporary “Energy Profits Levy” was expected. The size of the support package was something of a surprise, a measure of the depth of the crisis the UK population is facing, and the depth of the crisis of the current government, which has, with impunity, partied while people die. The End Fuel Poverty Coalition, of which FPA is a member, has outlined numerous potholes in the distribution of these funds – operational issues for some renters, Prepayment Meter users, and others that could prevent some people from receiving what they are entitled to. We will be Below we focus on the amounts.
The key offerings were:
£400 for every bill-payer and people on Prepayment Meters.
£650 each for the 8 million households surviving on welfare benefits,
£300 for pensioner households, and
£150 for households who get non-means-tested disability benefits
Many people can qualify for more than one, or even all of these sums. The chancellor has repeatedly claimed verbally that “most” people will get £1,200. The government’s website is more cautious: almost all of the eight million most vulnerable households across the UK will receive support of at least £1,200 this year.
There was enough in the package to warrant considerable relief, and even joy at this new proof that, after all, the government can move when pushed. Some people have dared to hope that the fuel poverty crisis is solved now. But unfortunately that is very far from the case. Lasting progress will require structural changes to our homes, our energy supply and the pricing system – like Energy For All, which will guarantee that every home has enough energy, free, to meet its basic needs. Instead, the Chancellor’s handouts will enable some to eat today – and go hungry again tomorrow. Here’s the context:
- The starting point. The levels of poverty are now so high in this country that even sums that are high, for a giveaway only take the tip off the iceberg. The UK spends far less on pensions than other OECD countries. Over two million families last year were forced to turn to food banks, up 80% on five years ago, and in many of these homes parents were working two or even three jobs to try to get by. Missing meals and rationing heat to an hour or less a day, many have not dared to put a kettle on, let alone cook a hot meal. With UK homes the worst insulated in Europe many are paying over the odds to heat houses and flats that never really stay warm or even dry. In terms of fuel costs alone, £1200 more than cancels out the expected £800 increase next October, but doesn’t approach negating the £1,500 total with the increase this spring, let alone what could happen next January, with Ofgem’s accelerated increase timetable. We cannot forget that the £1500 is an average – it is more for people on prepayment meters, and much more for people in bad housing, forced to pay to heat the streets. And we can’t forget, either, that BEFORE these increases, even before the pandemic, 10,000 people in the UK died each winter from fuel poverty.
- Aside from the increasing fuel prices, people are facing massive increases in food costs, clothing, housing costs, transportation, and also, by the government’s choice, NI increases and real-terms cuts in benefits. Benefits increased by 3.1% in April, with consumer price inflation at 9%. The Chancellor’s “generous” £650 for people on means tested benefits goes a bit over half way towards making up the £20 per week ripped last October from people on UC – and never even extended to people on legacy benefits. There’s an extra £150 for people on disability benefits that are NOT means tested, but they are also to lose access to the Warm Home Discount, worth £150.
- Meanwhile, working age people who are not on any benefits will get £400, which doesn’t go far against a £1500 increase. Where does that leave people who were working 2 or 3 jobs but were still struggling to make ends meet before the need to find hundreds of pounds more to pay for energy? The Chancellor keeps saying that benefits will rise with inflation in the autumn – and inflation, he says confidently, will then fall (would he count on that if his own family were affected?) It’s true that in this very low waged economy many people in “good” jobs are also recipients of benefits. But that is by no means true of all. For the many one or two income households who earn just over the benefits threshold, there is a cliff edge to climb – they get only £400 and nothing more. Unlike a tax system that is graduated so people benefit from allowances in some proportion to what they need, your fate with the Chancellor’s helicopter money, as with so much else these days, depends on arbitrary cut off points, and luck.
- The monies do nothing about the gross injustices built into the pricing system. Because of the recently hugely increased standing charge on bills, you pay more per unit if you use less energy than if you are wealthy and profligate. No matter how much you cut down you can’t avoid the standing charge, which now carries the burden of covering the costs of failed, poorly regulated, energy suppliers. In addition, people on prepayment meters – often forced to have one installed because they’ve fallen into debt – pay more than people who can pay by Direct Debit.
- The handouts, however welcome, are a one-off. They may of course be repeated if the government again finds itself under sufficient pressure. But the total insecurity of having to wait in hope of such an event will drive many to despair, with all the implications for mental illness, suicides, demotivation, and sad, hard, unnecessary decisions being made to give up hope of a home, a course, a holiday, a business plan, or even a child because people in this country just can’t count on anything.
- The handouts will go not only to people who need them but to people who are already very wealthy and do not by any stretch of the imagination need help with their bills. FPA’s planned “Energy for All” is also universal, but would be balanced by higher tariffs for people who are using far more energy than they need. The Government’s suggestion that individuals can ‘donate to charity’ in no way deals with the injustice of giving public money to people who may already be profiting from the crises that are pushing the rest of us to desperation.
Meanwhile, how is this all funded, and what of the Windfall Tax? Well, a 25% levy on the extraordinary profits that energy companies are raking in from our bills is due to raise £5 billion of the £15 billion pounds being spent on returning cash to households. (Interesting that they can find the rest from somewhere.) But at the same time, the Chancellor has promised these same companies that if they “invest in the UK” – and specifically in oil and gas – they will get back over 91p for every pound invested. In their own businesses, that is. Promised up to 2025, at £1.9 billion per year this has been estimated to give them £5.7 billion (no official figures available). The government is taking with one hand, then, and giving back generously, with the other – as a bribe to induce profit-sated multinational corporations to further drill for oil, pollute the air, water, land and sea, and destroy the climate that we all depend on. Rishi Sunak’s tax breaks could lead to more than £8bn worth of North Sea energy projects.
In any case, a tax worth £5 billion from £13.4 to £13.6 billion of windfall profits, still leaves eight and a half billion pounds in the hands of these corporations. That money – unearned, and created by the extra high prices we have paid – will go to people so obscenely wealthy that they don’t know what to do with it, and to further destruction of planet earth. Yet that money could have made a huge difference to our bills and our health. Just £3 billion could insulate over 2 million homes.
All this on top of the ongoing enforced generosity of the British taxpayer who gives more in subsidies to the likes of BP and Shell than we take from them in taxes. In normal times the UK government taxes oil and gas producers 40% on profits from North Sea extraction. This is the lowest government tax take in the world from an offshore oil and gas regime. Even with this temporary levy, the tax rate on oil and gas companies in the UK will still be lower than the global average.
Out of sight of the headlines, then, the champagne corks were no doubt popping in corporate boardrooms where billionaire CEOs weighed up the Chancellor’s statement. In millions of kitchens, meanwhile, their customers splurged by finally turning the kettle on and making a nice cup of tea.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve secured funding to pursue our campaign for Energy For All! Below we’re advertising two posts – one full time, one part time. We very much look forward to expanding our team.
To apply, please send cover letter and CV to [email protected] by 5 pm on 7 July 2022 (extended deadline) with “e4a Application” in the subject line, and get in touch if you have any questions.
Energy for All Campaign Coordinator
Download a PDF of the job description here or read it below:Energy-for-All-Campaigner-Coordinator
Energy for All Campaigner: Parliamentary Focus
Download a PDF of the job description here or read it below:Energy-for-All-Campaigner-Parliamentary-focus
Graeme Langton and Eddie Farrell, Malus Court residents
Following Pendleton Together’s revelation late Friday afternoon by letter, Malus Court residents will be without water for 30 hrs this coming Wednesday. How will this affect residents?
On Malus Court we have a range of ages and disabilities living on here. Ages range from new-born babies up to residents in their 90’s. Disabilities include mental health conditions, dementia, end of life diagnosis and conditions keeping residents bed bound. For example, the resident who is 90 years the day before the water switch off needs constant care – help with bathing and medications and regular toilet needs throughout the day and night. He needs to be kept warm and eat regular hot meals. His wife in her late 80’s also has medical needs and also needs medical care daily being diabetic. The strain on their health is enormous, not only physical but mentally as well. They struggle to cope heating their flat due to spiralling bills that come with a heating system that is not suitable with the property. There is no insulation on the property. Malus Court is under fire watch since Grenfell. Fire risk recommendations since 2017 have been ignored. And this couple live 7 floors up, fearing if a fire did happen they would die in the building.
Now we have ‘Watergate’, switching water off for 30 hrs. Pendleton Together, our landlords, and Salford Council who own the properties have put these measures in place for the Watergate disruption:
- They have offered use of ( 1 ) toilet for 84 flats totalling over 100 residents, situated over 100 metres away and only accessed by leaving Malus Court and braving the weather that day/night.
- They have offered bottled water if we contact them or go fetch it ourselves. ( I am sure the bedbound residents will mange that (not)) .
- They also refuse to open their offices for residents to have face to face conversations with management, although the rest of the country have returned to work. But let’s be thankful, they have offered to come to the back door and speak outside with residents through resident liaison officers who have no authority and repeat same answer – ‘we don’t know, someone will ring you back’ – which never happens.
So this gentleman and his wife will have no water for 30 hrs. They’ll have no toilet facilities in their home to use as they would not be able flush toilet when they both need access to a toilet all day/night due to their medical needs. They cannot wash and keep clean for 30hrs. But if they walk 100 metres and queue up outside they might be able use the one toilet available if they don’t soil themselves waiting or they die due to the cold or exertions to get there. This is just one example. How do families feed babies and wash them?
All residents should be put in hotels or alternative accommodation until this Watergate has ended.
The past years since Grenfell residents have had to endure:
- Windows leaking, and going into debt because of heating bills for a system that does not warm your home but costs hundreds of pounds per month.
- No insulation on building making them very, very cold.
- Fire risk recommendations not actioned.
- Vermin infestation/ silver fish.
The list is endless. And now Watergate and still our ward councillors, local mayor and Manchester mayor and MP ignore our plight and refuse to visit or even open dialogue with residents over our concerns. Lives are at risk and the local authorities are failing in their duty of care. And if something tragic happens while we wait for them to help, ‘Lessons must be learnt’ will be the answer.
UPDATE (October 2022): Latest information backing our Energy For All Campaign.
The petition for Energy For All and its hundreds of thousands of signatures have made waves in the UK, shaking assumptions about what is needed and what is possible. Since we issued the call in February, the background information has changed.
The 54% increase in energy prices came in on 1 April – with an even bigger rise expected in October. Groups and people across the UK mobilizing and pledging to take action in response brought a halt to what could have been the most disastrous energy price rise in our lifetimes.
The Energy Price Guarantee, capped the unit price of energy at twice what it was last winter and was expected to cost up to £150bn in taxpayer’s money to the energy sector – now the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has stated this will be reviewed in April. Should this cap be lifted, the average household could pay around £4300 a year towards energy bills.
Increasingly, people are recognising that a price freeze or one-off windfall tax does not deliver the security that consumers need. Having seen our petition, a cross-party group of MPs has now opened up discussion within parliament on Energy For All, beginning with an Early Day Motion proposing a ‘Universal basic energy allowance’. You can email your MP asking them to sign!
The need to reverse the huge injustice of energy pricing remains as strong as ever.
The petition has brought this issue onto the agenda. Energy For All, as defined below, is as up-to-date and relevant as ever – a stepping stone away from inequality, and towards a more caring way of life. Join the next stages of the campaign to help make this demand a reality!
#EnergyForAll Petition- Everyone has a right to the energy needed for heating, cooking, and light (original post, February 2022)
Energy bills have risen dramatically in the last year – and the price cap is now to increase by 54% in April. This rise will leave millions of people like me struggling with cold homes. Many of us are facing damp, ill health, darkness, hunger and misery. Before the pandemic and the price increase around 10,000 people died each winter in the UK’s cold homes. Now even more will die.
I’m a pensioner living on a council estate in south London, and even before the recent price increases it was a struggle for me and my neighbours to keep warm. I am asthmatic, and many of us have health problems, as well as problems with our housing conditions. My grandchildren don’t even visit me because my house is too cold. I’ve been working with Fuel Poverty Action for more than ten years now. There are too many people who cannot afford or struggle to keep warm.
To end this outrage, Fuel Poverty Action is calling for #EnergyForAll.
#EnergyForAll means giving everyone a free amount of energy – that is enough energy, free, to cover the basics like heating, cooking, and lighting – to give us all the security we need, taking account of people’s actual needs related to their age, health, and housing. To pay for this new pricing system, Energy for All, we’re urging the Government to introduce a Windfall Tax on the profits of oil and gas producers, traders and suppliers, and to STOP subsidising fossil fuels with millions of pounds every day.
The UK is a wealthy nation, with many billionaires – now more than ever due to fortunes made in the pandemic. Many companies, including energy companies, are clocking up exceptional profits – while we struggle to pay the prices they are charging.
No one should get ill or die because of cold homes. No one should spend days in libraries or shopping centres to keep warm. Every home should be well repaired and insulated so we don’t need so much energy in the first place. We need your help to stop the outrage of fuel poverty – please sign and share this petition!
The government says we will get £200 back – but that will be a loan which we’ll have to repay in future bills. I have no idea where that money will come from in the future. They also say most people will get an extra £150 – very welcome, but far from enough. From April, many will see an increase of around £700 per year – more if your home is poorly insulated, or if you are on a prepayment meter, like many people on low incomes.
Instead of filling the pockets of fossil fuel companies, taxpayers money should be used to make sure everyone can keep warm. And the pricing system should be fair.
At present, we pay more per unit of gas or electricity if we use less of it. At present, we pay a high standing charge even when we use very little energy, or none at all. Our new pricing system, Energy for All, would eliminate that injustice and turn pricing right side up.
Please join my campaign to ensure we get #EnergyForAll.
In April 2022, Diane Skidmore, who started our #EnergyForAll petition, was interviewed by Rob Rinder on Talk TV about rising energy bills, watch below:
Note: “e4a: Energy for All” is a proposal for a new pricing structure for energy, and is entirely distinct from energy4all.co.uk which supports community renewable energy projects. Fuel Poverty Action also strongly supports the aims and cooperative initiatives of Energy4All.
The gas crisis is bringing misery and death to people already struggling to survive this winter.
It is the result of the government and Ofgem failing to take basic precautions for when international gas prices rise:
- they allowed gas storage units to close;
- failed to invest in meaningful energy efficiency programs;
- and left privatised retailers to expose consumers to volatile wholesale prices without buying in advance.
We know that UK consumers cannot afford to pay energy companies more money for these mistakes. The money must come from those benefiting from the crisis.
In October we proposed a windfall tax on the profits of fossil fuel extractors. We argued that some part of the $65 billion they made between July and October must not be spent re-investing in fossil fuel exploration, development and extraction, which will further accelerate the climate crisis. Instead, a proportion of the excessive profits must be spent helping consumers keep warm and put food on the table.
Analysts now forecast that the average energy bill will rise almost 50%, to about £1865, this April. National Energy Action estimates this will push another 2 million people into fuel poverty, while of course creating further pain for the 4 million people already unable to pay their bills.
Across the industry, experts such as retail chief executives, former energy ministers and belatedly the labour party are now joining us in calling the government to announce a windfall tax before consumer prices rise in April.
We demand again that the windfall revenues from the international gas crisis are spent on helping people stay warm this winter. To ensure the poorest are reached:
- This should be via a flat payment to each household and not means tested.
- The money should not be spent on funding reduced bills through VAT removal, which would disproportionately benefit the richest consumers.