Join us this Thursday 23rd March 6.30 – 7.45pm for the online launch of our Manifesto!
Speakers to include Clive Lewis MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Anne McLaughlin MP and John McDonnell MP. Alongside Ian Hodson of Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, Mia Watanabe from the Warm This Winter Coalition, Paula Peters from DPAC, Indigo Rumbelow of Just Stop Oil and others.
We call on organisations, trade and tenants unions, community and faith groups, MPs, local authorities and distinguished individuals to sign in support of our Manifesto.
Between Thursday 19th – Sunday 22nd January, campaigners and locals came together in towns and cities across the UK to demand the UK Government #BanForcedPPMs and implement #EnergyForAll.
On the 19th, ONS released the excess winter deaths figures for 2021/22. We joined the National Pensioner’s Convention and others, holding our traditional vigil in Westminster to mark the date. Speeches were given by Lord Prem Sikka, John McDonnell MP, Jan Shortt (NPC General Secretary), Paula Peters (DPAC) and our own Ruth London. Following a minute’s silence, participants marched to Downing Street and laid a coffin at the gate.
On the same date, a similar vigil took place at Cardiff Central Square. Protesters also interrupted First Minister’s Questions in Edinburgh, challenging Nicola Sturgeon on prepayment meters.
Further demonstrations took place at Leicester Town Hall, a Shell garage in Cambridge and outside Octopus Energy Sales Hub in Birmingham!
We have succeeded in forcing the government to act! During the days of action, a crackdown was announced on energy companies forcing people onto prepayment meters. While we celebrate this success and reflect on the power of our collective action, we will continue to push the government to go further and implement an outright ban!
On January 19th, the Office for National Statistics will announce the number of excess winter deaths last year. Fuel Poverty Action call on our partners and allies to join us taking action around this date.
Around January 19th, hold a minute’s silence in your local area to commemorate those who’ve lost their lives as a result of fuel poverty. Invite friends, family, colleagues or comrades to join you in a public place and contact us on [email protected] so we can connect you with others near you.
📍 In London join a ‘Funeral March’. Meet at George V Statue, Old Palace Yard, Westminster at 11.30am for speeches and a minute’s silence before moving to Downing St. Wear black and bring a white flower.
(Nearest accessible tube station Westminster, Jubilee Line. Buses 3, 11 or 253 to nearby.)
📍Cardiff – On 19th January, meet at 11am in Cardiff Central Square.
📍Brighton– On 20th January, meet at 10.30am at the Brighton War Memorial, Old Steine.
📍Leicester– On 21st January, meet 11am at Leicester Town Hall.
Bring placards saying – ‘Energy For All’, ‘Cold Homes Kill’, ‘End Winter Deaths’ and ‘BanForcedPPMs‘.
📱 TAKE ACTION DIGITALLY
Sign and share the 38 Degrees petition calling on energy companies to stop forcing customers onto prepayment meters!
On January 21st, organise or participate in a Warm-Up protest. Warm-Ups were started by Fuel Poverty Action on the principle that if we can’t afford to heat our homes, we have the right to go to any public building and keep warm there. See this guide to organising one.
Warm-Ups so far expected in:
Edinburgh – Meet at 9.50am outside Canongate Kirk.
Exeter – Meet 12pm at the bottom of Grenadier Road, EX1 3QN.
Liverpool – Meet 11.30am at Pier Head by the Ferry Terminal.
North London – Meet 12pm at Cavendish Square Gardens, W1G.
South London – Meet 12pm The Venue, 5-7 Middle Street, Croydon.
Over the weekend of December 3rd and 4th, Warm-Ups took place in Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow, Hastings, Islington, Liverpool, Oxford and Stratford.
Register: Upcoming Warm-Up training on Wednesday 21st December, 7pm.
Around 9.30am, Glasgowegians Warmed-Up outside Scottish Power HQ and sat down with blankets, sleeping bags and hot water bottles, singing and dancing, and chanting “Bills too high, pay too small, we need Energy For All!” to stay the morning chill away.
In London, Just Stop Oil supporters got cosy in beds and sofas in Harrods while FPA and Don’t Pay members warmed up in the British Museum.
In Hastings, locals entered a branch of Barclays bank – while others warmed up in shopping centres around the country.
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.
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.
Visit our new Energy for All website by clicking the logo below or heading to energyforall.org.uk
Press Release – OnWednesday 19 October 2022, our Energy For All petition was handed in to 10 Downing St . At the time of the event, signatures numbered 651,193! Over 100 people gathered in support for a rally and march in Westminster and to hear speakers from a range of allied movements. Also in attendance, were over 20 MPs from multiple parties. The day prior to the petition hand-in, an Early Day Motion launched in parliament calling for a Universal basic energy allowance. Email your MP asking them to sign!
We call on the government to institute urgent fundamental changes to the present pricing structures for energy – the gas, electricity, oil, and heat supplied to UK homes. The new system we are calling for is Energy For All.
The present system is causing many thousands of deaths every year, especially among people who are vulnerable due to their age or disabilities. It is also the source of widespread misery, ill health, and blighted childhoods.
At the same time, the huge sums being harvested from people living on scarce resources in poorly repaired and uninsulated homes, are going into the private holdings of billionaires, or being poured into investment in fossil fuels that are rapidly destroying the climate and the earth we live on.
We believe this situation requires not palliative measures and occasional financial relief, but fundamental change.
The basic principle of a free allocation of energy has been endorsed by many organisations including the TUC, New Economics Foundation, and, in a national poll, by 75% of the population. As organisations and as individuals in responsible positions in UK civil society, we now ask the government and opposition parties to implement this proposal, along with other principles which were laid out in the popular petition or which have been added since then.
Under Energy For All:
Each household will receive, free of charge, enough energy to ensure it can cover its needs. This includes for instance adequate heating, lighting, cooking, hot water, refrigeration, charging phone and digital connectivity, and where needed, hearing aids, medical equipment, stairlifts, and wheelchairs.
This free energy will be paid for by higher tariffs on usage exceeding what is needed, by windfall taxes on fossil fuel corporations, and by recouping the millions of pounds now spent daily on subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
UK housing will urgently be brought up to a standard where people are not made ill by their own homes. It is a scandal that homes in one of the world’s richest countries are the coldest and dampest in Europe. Safe, non-toxic, non-flammable insulation appropriate to the building, and sound heating systems must be installed by skilled workers in consultation with residents. All rented property must be kept in good repair. These measures will dramatically reduce the amount of energy required to meet provision number 1. They will put low income households on a par with better off neighbours who already need less energy, and it will greatly ease pressure on the NHS.
No household will be required to pay in advance for the energy they need by means of key or card prepayment meter in their home, or by means of a smart meter. There should be a permanent and statutory end to the installation of prepayment meters by court orders authorising intrusion in people’s homes, or remotely by smart meters set to prepayment mode. No one should be disconnected from vital supplies as a means of recovering debt.
There must be urgent attention to injustices in the energy pricing system. Including the relationship between pricing for electricity and for gas when renewable energy is cheaper, geographical discrepancies, exclusion of itinerant and some other communities from current benefits and provisions, unfairness in pricing for storage heaters, time of use payments and district heating, and the huge standing charges which presently penalise people who can only afford to use a little energy. Many of these issues, including the standing charge, will be resolved by Energy For All but they must be attended to while the new pricing system is brought in.
Media Coverage on Energy For All
Full round-up of coverage for Warm-Ups on 03.12.22 calling for Energy For All
Warm-Ups took place at Scottish Power HQ in Glasgow, the British Museum, Harrods, a Barclays Bank in Hastings and shopping centres in Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, Oxford and Stratford.
Energy Live News: ‘Ofgem urged to abandon plans to introduce a quarterly price cap‘ Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action said: “Ofgem has supported higher charges for people on prepayment meters and has added to the burden of the standing charge element of bills. Both force people on low incomes to pay for energy at much higher rates than the wealthy. The current crisis makes it urgent to reverse this grotesque injustice and bring in energy for all – a free band of energy to make sure that everyone can keep warm and keep the lights on.” 16 June 2022
In Scotland, the Herald editorialises:‘Urgent action is needed on our energy bills’ “The Fuel Poverty Action group has devised an interesting scheme whereby everyone will receive a free amount of energy to cover such basics as heating, cooking and lighting, with the pricing system being funded by a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas producers, traders and suppliers … Something, surely, has to happen.” 23 April 2022
Read our Energy For All briefingproduced for a parliamentary event on 15 June 2022: A roundtable: building a movement around the Cost of Living Crisis hosted by Nadia Whittome MP
Alexa Waud introduces Energy For All in the context of debates around universality and ‘vulnerability’ at the Right to Energy Forum, December 2020. The ensuing discussion raised important questions about Energy For All at the early stage of the proposal’s development.
A taster from Alexa’s speech: “Covid just made it obvious that what’s needed is not specific treatment for some but an energy system and a pricing system that are fit for everyone … So – we started looking at the whole thing from another angle. We’re now putting forward what we’re calling “Energy for All” … It’s more like a universal human right.”