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Press Releases

Thursday 27th March
Comment: An Ofgem inquiry will do little to address the real issues

On today’s energy investigation announcement by Ofgem, Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson Clare Welton said
‘A competition inquiry will do little to address the urgent reality of the situation- with over ten thousand people dying each year from cold homes we need much more than the piecemeal market reforms which may follow.
‘It won’t change the fact that the government will continue pushing the fracking of communities and building a new generation of gas power stations, which will mean even higher fuel bills in the long-run alongside extreme weather like flooding and rising food prices due to climate change.
‘We urgently need to re-think the fundamentals of our energy system, to put our rights to warm homes and a safe climate ahead of the profits of the energy companies.’

Wednesday 26th March

Comment on SSE’s Price Freeze Announcement

On today’s price freeze announcement by SSE, Fuel Poverty Action’s Clare Welton said:

‘A price freeze until 2016 simply isn’t a long-term answer to our broken energy system which leaves thousands of people to die each winter in cold homes: our bills are already at deadly highs.

‘Whilst the Big Six are evidently taking small steps to placate millions of angry households, these policies neglect real, long-term energy solutions: an energy system that puts our right to warm homes and a safe climate first, ahead of the interests of profiteering and polluting energy companies. We urgently need affordable, sustainable and democratic energy and a price freeze on already too high bills does nothing to change that.’

Thursday 13th March
Comment on E.ON profit announcement

In response to the news that E.ON’s profits have risen 26 % a Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson said:

“The astonishing rise in E.ON’s profits once again shows that cold-blooded energy companies are profiteering from driving people into fuel poverty. While one in four people in the UK struggle to pay their fuel bills and thousands die from cold homes, E.ON put up energy bills twice in 2013.

E.ON and the Big Six must not be allowed to make a killing from the ruthless exploitation of millions of households and our planet. On May 12th Fuel Poverty Action will be targeting the big energy companies and the government to demand an end to their profiteering and a transition to affordable, green and democratically controlled energy.”

Thursday 20th February
Comment on Centrica’s profit announcement

On the profit announcement by British Gas owner’s Centrica today, a spokeswoman for Fuel Poverty Action says

‘We will shed no tears for Centrica today as a slight drop in their astronomical profits will provide cold comfort to the millions struggling with high bills, freezing homes and unwanted prepayment meters precisely because of the profiteering of this company.

‘If Centrica want to talk about ‘hostility’ perhaps they should look at the hostility they have for their customers and for communities in the UK- they’re the company who hiked their prices and then paid out hundreds of millions of pounds to shareholders, who breaks into people’s houses to install prepayment meters against their will, who lobbied the government to axe free insulation for the poorest households, who want to frack a community in Lancashire, regardless of what that community wants.

‘It’s high time to recognise that until we have a not-for-profit, renewable energy system which puts communities and those in fuel poverty first, the likes of British Gas will continue to make a killing. Fuel Poverty Action will be making the British Gas AGM in May a sight of protest  to express our anger and to call for an affordable, sustainable, more democratic energy future.’

Thursday 5th December

Fuel poverty campaigners condemn the autumn statement

On George Osborne’s autumn statement announced today Fuel Poverty Action campaigner Clare Welton said

‘Osborne is axing insulation for tens of thousands of the poorest households, condemning thousands of families to cold and damp homes with unaffordable high bills for decades, whilst letting the Big Six profiteer as before just a week after a huge rise of deaths from fuel poverty have been reported.

‘This cut for the fuel poor, and the cap for those who need benefits to survive, comes at the same time that profiteering, polluting and unpopular fracking companies are handed huge tax breaks by the government.

The Chancellor is wilfully ignoring the government’s own research which shows that big investment in insulation and renewable energy are the only ways to bring down bills in the long term [1], and is instead choosing to lock us into an expensive and unsustainable energy future for the sake of short term profit.’

[1] http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1672_CCC_Energy-Bills_bookmarked.pdf

Monday 2nd December

Comment on the “£50 bill reduction” announced by DECC and the Big 6

On today’s announced changes to ‘green levies’ Fuel Poverty Action campaigner Clare Welton said:

‘Both the energy companies and the government have today been quick to congratulate themselves on a small ‘reduction’ to energy bills, whilst putting forward no real solutions to end fuel poverty. Bills were too high for millions of households before the latest price hike, and will still be too high after today’s announcement of a slightly lower increase in prices. Furthermore, the announcement today bares no impact on energy company profits or their CEO’s bonuses, it simply transfers costs onto the taxpayer whilst making life harder for poorly insulated, cold households.

‘It’s clear that the Energy Company Obligation was not working in it’s current form.However, we are worried that the way in which the ECO is being transferred onto the taxpayer shows a complete lack of commitment from the government to ending fuel poverty.

‘Home insulation, investment in renewable energy and discounts for pensioners were all components of the ‘green levies’ and they are all essential in ending fuel poverty and creating a fair, affordable and sustainable energy system.With far fewer homes now to be insulated each year, this £50 ‘reduction’ comes at the cost of condemning tens of thousands of households to another freezing winter without adequate insulation and with ever-rising bills and it is only energy companies that will benefit from poorly insulated homes with high fuel costs.

Today’s announcement also does nothing to tackle the Big Six’s addiction to expensive and unsustainable fossil fuels, which account for a huge 50% of our bill, compared to less than 10% for the ‘levies. Evidence from the government’s Committee on Climate Change shows that by 2050, well insulated homes and an energy system that uses renewable sources could make our bills £600 cheaper than the gas-based alternative[1]. Until we tackle the source of our energy as well as the ownership of it, we will continue to suffer from high bills and an unsafe climate. That our government’s actions and statements repeatedly betray such utter disregard for the need for sustainable solutions to fuel poverty and climate change is a tragedy and an outrage.’

[1] Energy prices and bills – impacts of meeting carbon budgets, Committee on Climate Change, December 2012: http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1672_CCC_Energy-Bills_bookmarked.pdf

Tuesday 12th November
Direct Action groups to target Big Six over fuel poverty deaths

On the day that yet another Big Six energy company announces a price-hike [1] anti-austerity groups including Fuel Poverty Action, UK Uncut, Greater London Pensioners Association and Disabled People Against Cuts reveal protests against ‘Big Six criminals’ on the day that excess winter deaths are announced.

Acting under the banner of ‘Bring down the Big Six – Fuel Poverty Kills!’ the groups will hold ‘an outrageous, creative and inclusive’ protest at the London office of one of the UK’s Big Six energy companies on Tuesday November 26th at 11.30am

Simultaneously, protesters will target British Gas at their new Oxford HQ [2]

Hundreds have pledged to take part in the protests so far. [3]

At least 7,200 people died last year in the UK due to cold homes. [4] A similar number of deaths is expected this year.

The Big Six Energy companies – N-Power, EDF, E.On, Scottish Power (owned by Iberdrola), British Gas (owned by Centrica), and Scottish and Southern Electric – run over 97% of the UK’s domestic energy system. Collectively they have doubled prices since 2004. Over the past 10 years, electricity in the UK has gone up 120.5% and gas 190.5% whilst household goods have soared by 30% [5]

For every 1% company price hike 40,000 people are plunged into fuel poverty [6]

The Big Six have been fined millions by OFGEM for mis-selling price plans – of which there are 900 to choose from in the UK – and are estimated to have made £2bn through overpaid bills by customers using Direct Debit [7]

The Big Six also include tax avoiders. Scottish Power paid only £102m corporation tax in 2012 on profits of £1.2bn and N-Power paid zero on profits of £766m over three years. [8]

James Grainger of Fuel Poverty Action said: ‘The Big Six are lying to us when they say the problem is ’green taxes’. The real problems are the Big Six’s profiteering and the rising cost of polluting energy like oil and gas. Energy is a basic need, too important to be left in the hands of profit-hungry private companies. A combination of publicly owned and community controlled renewable energy – alongside mass insulation – is the way to bring bills down and stop people dying from cold.’

Sarah Price of UK Uncut said: ‘The Big Six are an example of incredible corporate greed. Huge profits are extracted from the public whilst they suffer at the hands of austerity. David Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires are only too happy to stuff the pockets of big business while ordinary people are left out in the cold. The combined wealth of cabinet ministers is £70 million and they will never feel the pain of those who can’t afford their energy bills this winter. People must be put before profit, and with creative direct action, we will stand with the elderly, the poor and vulnerable to fight for OUR power. Fuel Poverty must end.’ [9]

Paddy Murphy of Disabled People Against Cuts said: “Another harsh winter will mean more disabled people will find themselves isolated in their homes, unable to heat them, or cook properly. Many don’t make it through. Politicians and energy firms talk about ‘measures’ and ‘support’, which are only available to a very few. The energy firms continue to sit in government departments writing energy policy, in buildings where the heating is paid for by the very people who will die of cold this winter. This is a disgrace. We ask all disabled people to take action, and to show this government, and these companies, that we wont take this and will fightback”

Betty Cottingham of Greater London Pensioners Association said: “Pensioners have a limited time on this earth. We can’t wait any longer – we want an immediate response to the dire circumstances that pensioners live in. Jumpers are not a solution. The solution is the take back the fuel industries into public ownership, and to see them as a public service and not something for someone to make a fortune out of”

Ends

CONTACT
Fuel Poverty Action – 07586 482 157 fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
UK Uncut – 07415 063 231 ukuncut@gmail.com
Disabled People Against Cuts 07508 983 610
Greater London Pensioners Association 020 7209 3084

Notes

1 EDF announced a 3.9% rise for January 3rd 2014. Earnings so far for the company are £46billion this year http://news.sky.com/story/1167341/energy-bills-edf-confirms-3-9-percent-average-rise and http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/city-news/energy-bills-edf-46billion-profit-2688513

2 www.facebook.com/events/1415841395313806
3 facebook.com/events/364663353679232
4 Last year there were 24,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales. According to the World
Health Organisation around 30% of excess winter deaths can be attributed to cold indoor
temperatures – which based on current figures means around 7,200 people died last year due to
cold housing in the winter months. Source:
euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file...
5 Office of National Statistics
6 www.theguardian.com/society/2011/dec/01…
7 SSE and Scottish Power were fined were fined £10.5m and £8.5m respectively this year for ‘mis-selling’.
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-248750…
8 www.theguardian.com/business/2013/apr/1…
9 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/92905…


Friday 25th October 2013

In response to Scottish Power’s price hike yesterday, Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said:

‘The latest in the wave of Big Six price rises goes to show that switching from one Big Six supplier to another is not the long-term solution to fuel poverty. The problem is the Big Six themselves – they will never prioritise people’s lives over their profits.’

‘The time has come to take control of our energy system out of the hands of the Big Six. We need a total overhaul of the energy system – putting it under democratic control and introducing publicly and community owned renewable energy production and distribution. This is the only way we will see sustainable, affordable energy into the future.’

In response to the government’s Official Cold Weather Plan, which advises households to turn the heating on to minimise winter deaths, Clare Welton said:

‘After scrapping publicly funded insulation schemes, cutting the Winter Fuel Payment and pushing ahead investment in expensive gas power which will push up our bills even higher, the government is now kindly advising us to make sure we keep our heating on. How out of touch can this government be? The reality is that the government’s policies – and their cosy relationship with the Big Six – mean that for millions of us, heating our homes to a safe level of warmth is simply not an option.

‘This winter, Fuel Poverty Action will be taking to the streets to speak out for real solutions to this escalating crisis of cold homes and winter deaths. Mass insulation and a combination of publicly owned and community run renewable energy could provide clean and affordable energy for all.’

For immediate release Monday 21st October 2013

Big Six prove they’re not fit to run our energy system

  •   Angry fuel poverty campaigners speak out against NPower price hikes
  •   Complete overhaul of how the energy system works is the only way to stop fuel poverty, and is popular.

NPower have today announced price hikes for the coming months of 9.3% for electricity and 11.1% for gas. This follows price rises of 8.2% by SEE and 9.2% by British gas in recent weeks.

Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said: “We can see from the wave of price rises that switching from one Big Six energy supplier to another is not the solution to fuel poverty.problem is the Big Six themselves-they will never prioritise people’s lives over their profits.

The time has come to take control of our energy system out of the hands of the Big Six. If we really want to end fuel poverty we need a total overhaul of the system – putting it under democratic control, and introducing publicly and community owned renewable energy production and distribution. This is the only way we will see sustainable, affordable energy into the future.”

While the Big Six have all come out to blame the rising costs on a combination of factors, including government schemes and so- called ‘green levies’ Welton responded that, “the majority of the increase is down to the rising cost of gas. To protect ourselves from the ever-rising cost of fossil fuels we need a move to renewable energy, controlled by us – not the Big Six – a group of companies that have shown they couldn’t care less about the lives of people making the impossible choice between heating and eating.

A massive overhaul of the UK energy system to be more democratic and sustainable is supported by the vast majority of people in the UK, polls show.

A recent poll by ComRes found that 69% of people in the UK support renationalising energy in the UK, and a co-operative poll conducted by ICM, recently revealed that the majority of people – 68% – would support community-based clean energy projects, compared to just 7% who said they wouldn’t. (http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2012/10/18/manifesto-published-to-accelerate-community-energy-revolution/)

Thursday 17th October 2013

In response to the British Gas price rises of 8.4% for gas and 10.4% for electricity announced today, Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said;

‘British Gas’ steep price rises are sure to send a shiver down the spine of millions of their hard up customers, particularly in the knowledge that Centrica, their parent company, reported £1.58billion operating profits in the 6 months to June this year.

‘However, British Gas are not the first and will not be the last Big Six energy company to announce huge bill increases this autumn. It’s time to recognise that switching from one expensive, profiteering company to another does not provide us with a solution, when the problem is the Big Six themselves.

‘High bills and price rises will force millions of households to choose between heating and eating this winter. Coupled with yet more threats published today from the energy sector about the lights going out, it is clear that the energy system is no longer working for us.

‘There is an alternative; clean, affordable, democratically controlled, not-for-profit energy and we need fair and rapid investment in renewables to start now. Until energy is under the ownership of the public and communities, which the vast majority of people want, we will continue to be at the sharp edge of profit hungry companies and ever increasing global fossil fuel prices.’

Thursday 17th October 2013

In response to the British Gas price rises of 8.4% for gas and 10.4% for electricity announced today, Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said;

‘British Gas’ steep price rises are sure to send a shiver down the spine of millions of their hard up customers, particularly in the knowledge that Centrica, their parent company, reported £1.58billion operating profits in the 6 months to June this year.

‘However, British Gas are not the first and will not be the last Big Six energy company to announce huge bill increases this autumn. It’s time to recognise that switching from one expensive, profiteering company to another does not provide us with a solution, when the problem is the Big Six themselves.

‘High bills and price rises will force millions of households to choose between heating and eating this winter. Coupled with yet more threats published today from the energy sector about the lights going out, it is clear that the energy system is no longer working for us.

‘There is an alternative; clean, affordable, democratically controlled, not-for-profit energy and we need fair and rapid investment in renewables to start now. Until energy is under the ownership of the public and communities, which the vast majority of people want, we will continue to be at the sharp edge of profit hungry companies and ever increasing global fossil fuel prices.’

Friday 11th October 2013

Response to Derek Lickorish, chair of the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group saying cutting the Energy Company Obligation:  ” is completely inequitable to attack the only measure that is doing something for the fuel poor in England. It is unforgivable when we have energy prices that are going only in one direction.”

“George Osborne has shown, yet again, that he couldn’t care less about the lives of people making the choice between heating and eating. The government’s cuts, high fuel prices, poor housing and short sighted energy policy will make for a deadly combination this winter as thousands are expected to die due to cold homes.

Enough is enough. The government’s cosy relationship with the Big Six is costing people’s lives. It is inconceivable that the Big Six will ever prioritise people’s lives over their profits, and the government seems to support this attitude. We can’t afford to be held to ransom by the energy companies and their government supporters any more.

The time has come to take control of our energy system out of the hands of the Big Six and put it under democratic control through a combination of publicly and community owned renewable energy production and distribution. We believe this is the only way we will see sustainable, affordable energy into the future.”

Quote from Maddy Jones, Fuel Poverty Action

Notes: The vast majority of the UK public agree that energy should be brought under public control (see: http://www.rtcc.org/2013/09/05/bbc-survey-highlights-uk-public-support-for-wind-and-solar/) whilst a much smaller proportion support new fossil fuel extraction in the UK.

In response to the Big Six threatening to raise bills by up to £100 to pay for ECO

“We are disgusted at reports that the Big Six have been threatening to put up bills in order to meeting their Energy Company Obligations. The Big Six are already making a killing from spiralling bills, but they’ll use any opportunity to hike the price up further – even in the name of a scheme which is supposedly aimed at the poorest.

This attitude is just one more example of why we can’t trust the Big Six with our energy. It’s time to take control of our energy system out of the hands of the Big Six and put it under democratic control through a combination of publicly and community owned renewable energy production and distribution. We believe this is the only way we will see sustainable, affordable energy into the future”

Quote from Maddy Jones, Fuel Poverty Action

Thursday 10th October 2013

SSE price hike shows that business as usual is not the answer

In response to SSE’s bills price rise announcement today, Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said:

‘It is very difficult to believe SSE really is apologetic about the rises when they reported £1.4bn pre-tax profits this spring, especially when five of their top executies are earning over a million pounds a year. With 1 in 4 households in the UK currently making the impossible choice between heating and eating, the increases have been met with an understandably angry reaction from customers.

‘Even more audacious is SSE’s attempts to blame the price rise on green levies, when it’s own reporting shows that it is the wholesale price of fossil fuels that is pushing up the bills.

‘We cannot trust the Big Six energy companies to honestly respond to people’s energy needs, and the time has come for energy to be put back into the hands of communities. Fair investment in renewables must begin now if we are to avoid being vulnerable to the market’s constant price shocks.’

00.01am Monday 29th July 2013
Fuel poverty campaigners say transparency is not the real issue

Today, the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee released a report: ‘Energy Prices, Profits and Fuel Poverty’. The report calls on Ofgem to use its power to increase transparency and competition in the energy market. [1]

In response, James Granger of Fuel Poverty Action said:

‘Of course hard-up UK households have the right to know just how much of a killer profit their energy supplier is making. But increased transparency doesn’t mean a lot given the government’s plans to frack the countryside and build a new generation of gas power stations, which will mean even higher fuel bills alongside extreme weather and rising food prices due to climate change. With over seven thousand people dying each year from cold homes, we need more than piecemeal market reforms. We urgently need to re-think the fundamentals of our energy system, which prioritises the profits of the Big Six energy giants over our rights to warm homes and a safe climate.’

The report also suggests that we should pay for environmental and social programmes through public spending, funded by taxation, instead of levies on energy bills.

In response to this suggestion, James Granger of Fuel Poverty Action said:

‘Fuel bills are not rising because of the costs of renewable energy – the problem is profit-hungry energy companies and their addiction to expensive fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. We need a rapid shift to energy efficient housing and cleaner, cheaper renewable energy to bring down the bills and tackle climate change. Funding this shift by taxing the rich would be far preferable to levies on bills, which hit those on low incomes the hardest. However, our cabinet of millionaires is in bed with the Big Six, and their cuts to welfare and fuel poverty budgets in the context of generous tax breaks for fracking, show that they care more about their wealthy allies than the rest of us. It will take a movement of ordinary people fighting back against the government’s cuts and the power of the Big Six energy companies to force the changes we need.’

[1] Report available on 29/07/2013 at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/energy-and-climate-change-committee/

Notes to editors

– Fuel Poverty Action are a grassroots campaign for warm homes and a clean, affordable and democratic energy system. For more information see www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk and follow @FuelPovAction on Twitter.

– For interview requests and press inquiries, call 07586 482157 or email fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com

14.30PM Monday 3rd June 2013
Keep Winter Fuel Allowance universal

In response to Ed Balls’ statement on means-testing the Winter Fuel Allowance, Elizabeth Ziga of Fuel Poverty Action said:

“Ed Balls may say he’s targeting the rich, but means-testing the Winter Fuel Allowance will mean many people on low-incomes lose out via bureaucracy – means-testing always does. Instead of taking money from pensioners, whoever’s in Government should be taking money from the Big Six energy companies who profit directly from us freezing in the winter. It seems we can expect more of the same from Labour – more fuel poverty, more winter deaths and more unfair and unnecessary cuts.”

15:45PM Saturday 16th February 2013
Whitehall blockaded by wheelchair users in fuel poverty protest

Tel: 07586 482157.
Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com.
Twitter: @FuelPovAction
Find out more: http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/press/press-releases/

  • A fuel poverty protest is now blocking Whitehall, bringing traffic to a standstill, as they demand an end to fuel poverty.
  • Pensioners and disabled peoples’ rights activists lead the blockade that is also made up of climate change protesters and single mothers’ groups.

At 2pm, over 100 people gathered at the Department of Energy and Climate change to take action against spiralling fuel bills and the environmental consequences of the government’s “dash for gas”. The protesters then took their demonstration towards Downing Street and started blockading Whitehall when four wheelchair users, activists from the group Disabled People Against the Cuts, took to the street.

Protesters are holding giant mock fuel bills addressed to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, bearing the slogan: ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’.

Annie Edwards, a 65 year old grandmother, said:
“I can’t just sit at home shivering anymore- someone has to do something about how criminally expensive energy bills are ruining peoples lives. It seems like the only people that the government is listening to is the energy companies, they aren’t listening to us. Old people and sick people are dying and the government doesn’t care, so it’s time to take our protests to the next level.”

15:00PM Saturday 16th February 2013
Happening now: angry bill-payers protest against fuel poverty at Department of Energy and Climate Change

  • Protest taking place now outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW.
  • Photographs will be sent round after the protest. Follow @FuelPovAction on Twitter for live updates and photos.
  • For more information and photo and interview requests, including interviews with pensioners and disabled people, contact Fuel Poverty Action.

Tel: 07586 482157.
Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com.
Twitter: @FuelPovAction
Find out more: www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

Over 100 people are currently outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in protest against fuel poverty. Many of those present are pensioners, disabled people and others struggling with high fuel bills. [1] 

Protesters are holding giant mock fuel bills addressed to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, bearing the slogan: ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’. They have written testimonies of their experiences of fuel poverty on their personal fuel bills, which are being displayed outside the building. Those present are holding a ‘fuel bill assembly’ to speak out about how rising fuel bills and cold homes are affecting their lives and to discuss solutions. People are discussing further action: escalated protest, civil disobedience and direct action are being considered. 

Ellen Clifford of Disabled People Against Cuts, who is participating in the demonstration, said: 

‘I can’t afford to heat where I live anymore. Last year I couldn’t afford my rocketing fuel bills and I got put on a payment meter which is more expensive. Now I live with my partner who is also disabled and we have to choose eating over heating.’ 

 Elizabeth Ziga of Fuel Poverty Action said:

‘While millions of us freeze in our homes, the government are snugly in bed with the Big Six energy companies. DECC have caved into the Big Six’s plot to increase our dependence on dirty and expensive gas power, even though this will send fuel bills through the roof and contribute to rising food prices through climate change. Hundreds of people across the UK are taking to the streets this weekend to express their anger and speak out for the alternative: clean, cheap renewable energy, under the control of communities, not corrupt politicians and energy tycoons.’

DECC is being targeted as part of a UK-wide weekend of action on fuel poverty called ‘Stop the Great Fuel Robbery’, organised by direct action- group Fuel Poverty Action. Big Six energy company offices have also been targeted. Yesterday, the Edinburgh headquarters of Scottish Gas (Scottish arm of Centrica), were also targeted in a demonstration organised by a tenants’ federation. [2] E.ON’s Nottingham offices were hit by demonstrations on Thursday. Actions are also taking place in Manchester, Lewisham, Hackney, Haringey and Southwark. [3]

The protest against DECC comes amidst strong criticism of their ‘flagship’ Green Deal scheme, which replaces government energy efficiency grants with private sector loans. The Green Deal has been criticised due to its high interest rates and upfront fees and its potential for allowing big banks and energy companies to profit. [4] Recent Freedom of Information requests revealed that dozens of Big Six staff are being loaned to work on government energy policy within DECC. [5] DECC have also been criticised for their role in pushing ahead a so-called ‘dash for gas’ despite the fact that increasing the UK’s dependence on gas would increase energy bills and exacerbate climate change. [6] Meanwhile, the government have cut fuel poverty budgets by 26 per cent and slashed energy efficiency measures for the fuel poor by 44 per cent. [7]

[1] For more info on the fuel bill assembly at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, see: http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/stop-the-great-fuel-robbery/mass-fuel-bill-assembly-at-the-department-of-energy-and-climate-change/. Groups supporting the protest include: All African Women’s Group, Climate Justice Collective, Disabled People Against Cuts, Frack Off (London), Global Women’s Strike, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, National Pensioners’ Convention, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Red Pepper, Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, WinVisible.

[2] For more info about the protest at Scottish Gas, seehttp://edinburghenergycampaign.org.uk/.

[3] For a full list of actions taking place across the UK, seehttp://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2013/02/11/where-are-assemblies-and-action-happening/.

[4] Sehttp://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/critics-say-coalitions-green-deal-is-no-solution-to-curse-of-fuel-poverty-8477931.html anhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/27/green-deal-benefits-tory-friends.

[5http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/30/energy-companies-climate-ministry-decc

[6] According to the government’s own projections, energy bills will rise by £600 by 2020 if the dash for gas goes ahead, but would only rise by £100 if we invested in renewable instead. Seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/13/gas-energy-bills-renewables. John Gummer, Chair of CCC, recently wrote to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, warning that the Government’s dash for gas could be illegal: “extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity… in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets.” (http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/EMR%20letter%20-%20September%2012.pdf).

[7http://www.ukace.org/2012/11/the-impact-on-the-fuel-poor-of-the-reduction-in-fuel-poverty-budgets-in-england/

NOTES TO EDITORS

·         According to the government’s definition, a household is in fuel poverty if it spends 10 per cent or more of its income on fuel. Around one in four UK households are in fuel poverty under this definition. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/01/fuel-poverty-affects-quarter-households).

·         According to a recent netmums survey, one in four mothers are being forced to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes on a daily basis. The survey also showed that eight out of ten families are rationing heating.(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rising-energy-bills-force-bleak-choice-on-families–eat-or-heat-8439823.html).

·         In 2011-2012, there were 24,000 excess winter deaths (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2011-12–provisional–and-2010-11–final-/index.html) According to World Health Organisation estimates, over 30 per cent of these deaths were due to cold homes (http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/142077/e95004.pdf).

·         Rising energy bills disproportionately affect disabled people. Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, on top of which additional unavoidable expenditure faced by disabled people is on average 25% higher than that for non-disabled people. Disabled people also need to spend more on energy as they are more likely to spend time indoors with fewer opportunities to go out and access community facilities to keep warm. Some impairments are aggravated by cold, requiring homes to be heated at higher constant temperatures to avoid illness and hospital admissions (http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/action-on-fuel-poverty-pensioners-speak-out-with-dpac-in-support/).

·         Deaths from hypothermia have doubled in the past five years, with the majority of these deaths being pensioners(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9078273/Hypothermia-deaths-double-over-five-years.html). Half of pensioners surveyed by Age UK have turned heating down when they are not warm enough in attempt to save money. The study from Age UK also reveals that around 2 million elderly people are so cold that they are going to bed when they are not tired and a similar number have moved into one room, in an attempt to keep their energy bills down. Age UK says the number of older people living in fuel poverty has tripled since 2003, now representing three million people, or a quarter of all pensioners (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/23/growing-numbers-pensioners-fuel-poverty).

·         Recent research from Macmillan Cancer Support shows that around 27,000 cancer patients in the UK are behind on their fuel bills and three in ten cancer patients have been forced to turn the heating off in the last three months, even though their condition leaves them more vulnerable to the cold (http://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/cancer-patients-in-fuel-poverty-8431758.html).

·         In a period of just three months last winter, the Big Six increased their profit-margins per-customer by over 700 per cent(http://citywire.co.uk/money/energy-crackdown-as-big-six-profit-margins-rise-700/a532567). Phil Bentley recently stepped down as boss of British Gas with a £13m pay-out (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2258695/Phil-Bentley-As-families-face-rising-bills-energy-chief-walking-away-13m.html). Ian Marchant recently stepped down as boss of SSE with a £15m pay-out(http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/energy-boss-gets-15m-golden-1552411).

·         The government have cut the funds available for those in fuel poverty by 26 per cent and has cut energy efficiency measures directed at those in fuel poverty by 44 per cent (http://www.ukace.org/2012/11/the-impact-on-the-fuel-poor-of-the-reduction-in-fuel-poverty-budgets-in-england/). The government have cut the Winter Fuel Allowance by £50 for those under 80 and £100 for those over 80 (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/family/2011/03/winter-fuel-payments-cut-in-secret-budget-measure). The Warm Front scheme which provided free energy efficiency grants for those in fuel poverty was recently slashed and replaced by the Green Deal, a private sector loan-based scheme, which has been subject to much criticism. Seehttp://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/critics-say-coalitions-green-deal-is-no-solution-to-curse-of-fuel-poverty-8477931.html.

·         It was recently revealed that dozens of Big Six staff are being loaned to work on energy policy at DECC. See:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/30/energy-companies-climate-ministry-decc.

·         According to Ofgem, energy bills went up by £150 last winter. £100 of this rise was due to the increased cost of gas(http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/smr/Documents1/SMR%20update%2028-03-12.pdf). Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy is going down (http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/data/wind-power-really-more-expensive-gas). An energy system run on renewable energy, generated from wind, solar and tidal power, would mean cheaper energy bills and help avert runaway climate change.

·         On the risk posed to the climate by the ‘dash for gas’, once extraction, which is becoming increasingly energy intensive, and transportation are taken into account, gas isn’t that much cleaner than coal (http://www.swip.com/sites/docs/SiteCollectionDocuments/SWIP%20Document%20Test%20Folder/May-2012-Sustainability-Research-Note.pdf). The Government’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), have stated that the low carbon grid of 2030 should produce no more than 50g of CO2 for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated. Gas produces 350g CO2 for every kilowatt hour at the point of generation (http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/policy-legislation/emr/2179-eps-impact-assessment-emr-wp.pdf). John Gummer, Chair of CCC, recently wrote to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, warning that the Government’s dash for gas could be illegal: “extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity… in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets.” (http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/EMR%20letter%20-%20September%2012.pdf)

·         On the impact of climate change on UK food prices, seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/oct/10/food-price-rise-uk-crop-harvest. On the relationship between climate change and flooding in the UK, see:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/26/floods-worst-climate-change-uk.

09:00AM Friday 15th February 2013 
Department of Energy and Climate Change targeted in fuel poverty protest

  • Protest to take place tomorrow (Saturday 16th February) at 2pm, assembling outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW.
  • Pensioners, disabled people, single mothers, asylum seekers and others to join ‘fuel bill assembly’ to speak out about experiences of fuel poverty and discuss solutions and action. Fuel poverty testimonies will be displayed on people’s fuel bills outside the building.
  • Event to coincide with other protests in Nottingham, Lewisham, Haringey, Hackney, Southwark and Edinburgh as part of UK-wide weekend of action called ‘Stop the Great Fuel Robbery’.
  • For more information and photo and interview requests, including interviews with pensioners and disabled people, contact Fuel Poverty Action.

Tel: 07586 482157.
Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com.
Twitter: @FuelPovAction
Find out more: http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

Tomorrow, pensioners, disabled people, single mothers and asylum seekers will be among those descending on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to protest against fuel poverty. Protesters plan to hold a ‘fuel bill assembly’ to speak out on how rising fuel bills and cold homes are affecting their lives and to discuss solutions and action on the issue. [1]

In what promises to be a creative and confrontational protest, those present will write testimonies about their fuel poverty experiences on top of their fuel bills, which will be displayed outside DECC. Symbols and examples of things that people are doing without in order to afford heating will also be displayed.

Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts, one of the groups participating in the protest, said:

‘I can’t afford to heat where I live anymore. I have a severe mental health condition that limits my employment options and just working the hours I do is a struggle. Last year I couldn’t afford my rocketing fuel bills and I got put on a payment meter which is more expensive. If I wasn’t well because of my mental health I couldn’t leave the house to top it up so I didn’t use it. Now I live with my partner who is also disabled and we have to choose eating over heating. I know lots of other disabled people in the same situation and some have physical impairments that get aggravated by the cold.’

DECC is being targeted as part of a UK-wide week of action on fuel poverty called ‘Stop the Great Fuel Robbery’, called by direct action- group Fuel Poverty Action. Today, the Edinburgh headquarters of Scottish Gas (Scottish arm of Centrica), are also being targeted.[2] E.ON’s Nottingham offices were hit by demonstrations on Thursday. Actions are also taking place in Lewisham, Hackney, Haringey and Southwark [3]

The protest against DECC comes amidst strong criticism of their ‘flagship’ Green Deal scheme, which replaces government energy efficiency grants with private sector loans. The Green Deal has been criticised due to its high interest rates and upfront fees and its potential for allowing big banks and the Big Six energy companies to profit. [4] Recent Freedom of Information requests revealed that dozens of Big Six staff are being loaned to work on government energy policy within DECC. [5] DECC have also been criticised for their role in pushing ahead a so-called ‘dash for gas’ despite the fact that increasing the UK’s dependence on gas would increase energy bills and exacerbate climate change. [6] Meanwhile, the government have cut fuel poverty budgets by 26 per cent and slashed energy efficiency measures for the fuel poor by 44 per cent. [7]

Elizabeth Ziga of Fuel Poverty Action, who last year took part in a day-long occupation of British Gas offices, said: [8]

‘The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is at the heart of the Big Six energy companies’ toxic sphere of influence on government energy policy. DECC’s Green Deal is a deal intended to line the pockets of energy company bosses, not for the benefit of the fuel poor or the climate. Meanwhile, DECC have caved into the Big Six’s plot to increase our dependence on dirty and expensive gas power, even though this will send fuel bills through the roof and contribute to rising food prices through climate change. People are angry and taking to the streets for the alternative: clean, cheap renewable energy produced for our benefit, not for the benefit of corrupt politicians and energy tycoons.’

[1] For more info on the fuel bill assembly at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, see: http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/stop-the-great-fuel-robbery/mass-fuel-bill-assembly-at-the-department-of-energy-and-climate-change/. Groups supporting the protest include: All African Women’s Group, Climate Justice Collective, Disabled People Against Cuts, Frack Off (London), Global Women’s Strike, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, National Pensioners’ Convention, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Red Pepper, Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, WinVisible.

[2] For more info about today’s protest at Scottish Gas, see: http://edinburghenergycampaign.org.uk/.

[3] For a full list of actions taking place across the UK, see: http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2013/02/11/where-are-assemblies-and-action-happening/.

[4] See http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/critics-say-coalitions-green-deal-is-no-solution-to-curse-of-fuel-poverty-8477931.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/27/green-deal-benefits-tory-friends.

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/30/energy-companies-climate-ministry-decc

[6] According to the government’s own projections, energy bills will rise by £600 by 2020 if the dash for gas goes ahead, but would only rise by £100 if we invested in renewable instead. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/13/gas-energy-bills-renewables. John Gummer, Chair of CCC, recently wrote to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, warning that the Government’s dash for gas could be illegal: “extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity… in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets.” (http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/EMR%20letter%20-%20September%2012.pdf).

[7] http://www.ukace.org/2012/11/the-impact-on-the-fuel-poor-of-the-reduction-in-fuel-poverty-budgets-in-england/

[8] On the Fuel Poverty Action occupation of British Gas, see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9048718/Fuel-poverty-protesters-occupy-British-Gas-offices.html

NOTES TO EDITORS
·         According to the government’s definition, a household is in fuel poverty if it spends 10 per cent or more of its income on fuel. Around one in four UK households are in fuel poverty under this definition. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/01/fuel-poverty-affects-quarter-households).

·         According to a recent netmums survey, one in four mothers are being forced to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes on a daily basis. The survey also showed that eight out of ten families are rationing heating. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rising-energy-bills-force-bleak-choice-on-families–eat-or-heat-8439823.html).

·         In 2011-2012, there were 24,000 excess winter deaths (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2011-12–provisional–and-2010-11–final-/index.html) According to World Health Organisation estimates, over 30 per cent of these deaths were due to cold homes (http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/142077/e95004.pdf).

·         Rising energy bills disproportionately affect disabled people. Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, on top of which additional unavoidable expenditure faced by disabled people is on average 25% higher than that for non-disabled people. Disabled people also need to spend more on energy as they are more likely to spend time indoors with fewer opportunities to go out and access community facilities to keep warm. Some impairments are aggravated by cold, requiring homes to be heated at higher constant temperatures to avoid illness and hospital admissions (http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/11/action-on-fuel-poverty-pensioners-speak-out-with-dpac-in-support/).

·         Deaths from hypothermia have doubled in the past five years, with the majority of these deaths being pensioners (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9078273/Hypothermia-deaths-double-over-five-years.html). Half of pensioners surveyed by Age UK have turned heating down when they are not warm enough in attempt to save money. The study from Age UK also reveals that around 2 million elderly people are so cold that they are going to bed when they are not tired and a similar number have moved into one room, in an attempt to keep their energy bills down. Age UK says the number of older people living in fuel poverty has tripled since 2003, now representing three million people, or a quarter of all pensioners (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/23/growing-numbers-pensioners-fuel-poverty).

·         Recent research from Macmillan Cancer Support shows that around 27,000 cancer patients in the UK are behind on their fuel bills and three in ten cancer patients have been forced to turn the heating off in the last three months, even though their condition leaves them more vulnerable to the cold (http://www.standard.co.uk/panewsfeeds/cancer-patients-in-fuel-poverty-8431758.html)

·         In a period of just three months last winter, the Big Six increased their profit-margins per-customer by over 700 per cent (http://citywire.co.uk/money/energy-crackdown-as-big-six-profit-margins-rise-700/a532567). Phil Bentley recently stepped down as boss of British Gas with a £13m pay-out (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2258695/Phil-Bentley-As-families-face-rising-bills-energy-chief-walking-away-13m.html). Ian Marchant recently stepped down as boss of SSE with a £15m pay-out (http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/energy-boss-gets-15m-golden-1552411).

·         The government have cut the funds available for those in fuel poverty by 26 per cent and has cut energy efficiency measures directed at those in fuel poverty by 44 per cent (http://www.ukace.org/2012/11/the-impact-on-the-fuel-poor-of-the-reduction-in-fuel-poverty-budgets-in-england/). The government have cut the Winter Fuel Allowance by £50 for those under 80 and £100 for those over 80 (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/family/2011/03/winter-fuel-payments-cut-in-secret-budget-measure). The Warm Front scheme which provided free energy efficiency grants for those in fuel poverty was recently slashed and replaced by the Green Deal, a private sector loan-based scheme, which has been subject to much criticism. See: http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/critics-say-coalitions-green-deal-is-no-solution-to-curse-of-fuel-poverty-8477931.html.

·         It was recently revealed that dozens of Big Six staff are being loaned to work on energy policy at DECC. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/30/energy-companies-climate-ministry-decc.

·         According to Ofgem, energy bills went up by £150 last winter. £100 of this rise was due to the increased cost of gas (http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/rmr/smr/Documents1/SMR%20update%2028-03-12.pdf). Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy is going down (http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/data/wind-power-really-more-expensive-gas). An energy system run on renewable energy, generated from wind, solar and tidal power, would mean cheaper energy bills and help avert runaway climate change.

·         On the risk posed to the climate by the ‘dash for gas’, once extraction, which is becoming increasingly energy intensive, and transportation are taken into account, gas isn’t that much cleaner than coal (http://www.swip.com/sites/docs/SiteCollectionDocuments/SWIP%20Document%20Test%20Folder/May-2012-Sustainability-Research-Note.pdf). The Government’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), have stated that the low carbon grid of 2030 should produce no more than 50g of CO2 for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated. Gas produces 350g CO2 for every kilowatt hour at the point of generation (http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/policy-legislation/emr/2179-eps-impact-assessment-emr-wp.pdf). John Gummer, Chair of CCC, recently wrote to the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, warning that the Government’s dash for gas could be illegal: “extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity… in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets.” (http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/EMR%20letter%20-%20September%2012.pdf)

·         On the impact of climate change on UK food prices, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/oct/10/food-price-rise-uk-crop-harvest. On the relationship between climate change and flooding in the UK, see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/26/floods-worst-climate-change-uk.

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