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.
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!
Theneed 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 thosebenefiting 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.