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Press Release: Hundreds protest across the country in anger over fuel poverty and corporate greed

Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action has called for protesters to target energy companies, local government and housing providers this weekend as anger builds over fuel poverty and corporate greed. The protests, dubbed ‘Winter Warm Ups’ and organised by community, environmental and Occupy groups, will take place in Lewisham, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Haringey, Hackney, the City of London and elsewhere. They demand a fair energy system which provides warm housing for all and a safe climate for our future [1].

Elizabeth Ziga from Fuel Poverty Action explains:
“Hundreds will be out protesting this weekend to challenge the ‘big 6’ energy companies who control 99% of the energy industry and make record profits off our rising bills. Thousands die each year in the UK because they cannot afford to heat their homes, and hundreds of thousands die globally due to climate change. The government is in bed with these companies, is doing nothing to deal with the poor quality of housing many of us experience, and to make matters worse has just cut the winter fuel allowance.”

Groups have called publicly for ‘warm-ups’ at Town Halls [2] criticising councils for not providing decent quality housing and insulation. Other groups are expected to be staging protests directly aimed at energy companies over the course of the weekend.

Jessica Ahmad, Lewisham resident, said:
“Our current energy system puts over 6 million homes into fuel poverty in the UK. Many have to choose between heating or eating, while CEOs of the energy companies pay themselves millions. We want our communities to control our housing and energy so that we can provide warm, insulated homes for all and a fair energy system that serves people’s needs, not corporate profits, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels that destroy our climate and our futures.”

Interview, photo and filming opportunities: Friday 27 – Monday 30 January
For more information, or to be put in contact with warm-up participants please contact Fuel Poverty Action:
Phone: 07864350440
Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
Twitter: @FuelPovAction

Footage and images available as events unfold – please contact us and/or follow us on Twitter to access.

NOTES TO EDITORS:
A more detailed Press Pack on fuel poverty and who’s responsible is available on request.

[1] Fuel Poverty Action (https://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/, Twitter @ FuelPovAction) was set up in 2011 as part of Climate Justice Collective. It aims to support and give a voice to people who can’t afford to pay mammoth fuel bills, and to take action against the energy companies, private and social landlords, and corrupt governments, national and local, that are leaving people in the cold. In November 2011, Fuel Poverty Action held a ‘die-in’ protest at EDF offices in London to mark the thousands of deaths due to fuel poverty in the UK annually.

[2] A list of public ‘warm ups’ with more info on each can be found here: https://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/events-coming-up/where-are-people-warming-up/

Recent Press Coverage on the issues:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2084919/Energy-bills-Millions-complain-charging-err
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/city-news/2011/07/06/a-quarter-of-brits-are-living-in-fuel-poverty-as-energy-bills-rocket-115875-23250279/
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100013377/fuel-poverty-and-cold-weather-the-deaths-that-shame-britain/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/24/companies-ministers-networking-events http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/3882387/Fuel-poverty-kills-2700-a-year-Shock-report-as-Sun-calls-for-fair-deal-on-energy.html

Key Facts:

⁃ According to the government-commissioned Hills Poverty Review, 2,700 people – a conservative estimate – will die this winter as a direct result of being ‘fuel poor’. As of April 2011, nearly 1 in 4 households (6.3million homes) in the UK were in fuel poverty.

⁃ While between 2005 and 2009 the number of UK people in fuel poverty doubled, the profits of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies – EDF, Centrica, Eon, RWE Npower, Scottish Power and Southern & Scottish Energy – have soared to a record five-year high.

– 4 million people filed complaints against their energy company last year

⁃ The 5% price decreases announced by EDF and British Gas go back only a short way against the overall 15-20% price rises in the past two years.

⁃ The government is making matters worse by delaying compulsory landlord-installed insulation, undermining the solar power feed-in tariff, and cutting the Winter Fuel Allowance.

⁃ Failing to make a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy will have huge environmental, human and economic costs. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue, annual global economic damages could reach US$20 trillion by 2100, or 6-8% of global economic output at that time.

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