Frances Ryan is writing a book about disability and austerity and is looking to speak to a disabled man who is affected by fuel poverty and unable to afford to keep their home heated in winter. She would only need to use your first name but if you can help please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also from Fuel Poverty Action
We’re about to embark on a month of political party conferences, and chances are they’ll be raising energy prices as an issue. This may be an opportunity to push for a cap so the Big Six can’t just put up prices as they like. The most effective way of putting on the pressure would be for people to come forward who themselves are suffering from cold, damp, or debt, or going short of other essentials just to pay the bills. Speaking out could be anonymous, or just in newspapers or online, or, if you like, you could be public.
A year ago we asked for people to come forward about the extra cost if you pay by key or card, with a prepayment meter (PPM). We did get a cap on PPM prices – but it’s not like what you could get on a fixed price deal, or if you could pay by direct debit or online. It’s more in line with the “Standard Variable Tariff” that two thirds of energy customers get put on, by default. And these Standard Variable Tariffs are outrageously, killingly, high. So we’re looking for people to come forward again, whether you are on a PPM or pay by bills, to say how you are affected and what you think should happen.
FPA will be pressing for a universal price cap, at an affordable level, for everyone – not just the “most vulnerable”. There are 17 million customers on the Standard Variable Tariff. The “consumer protection” regulator Ofgem has proposed a cap for just 2 to 3 million people who receive other heating benefits. This is in line with the government’s standard policy of “targeting” help at “those who need it most”. We do not agree that “targeting” is an effective way of protecting people on low incomes. Fair prices are a right, not charity.
A cap that’s restricted to only some customers would mean that your fuel prices rise again, maybe even higher than if there were no cap, as soon as you cross the threshold eg by getting married, getting a job or an increase in pay, or getting bumped off disability benefits by the DWP and its henchmen at Maximus. Even teachers and nurses are now dependent on food banks and fuel banks. We don’t think the energy companies should be making a killing off anyone. Means-testing always means that people in need lose out.
Instead of relying on the Big Six to single out vulnerable customers in their pricing, the government should reverse the violent cuts to welfare benefits, beginning with disabled people and asylum seekers who have been most savagely attacked, but also including single parents, pensioners, and people on low pay.
At the same time, we need a massive programme of insulation to provide effective, inspected, fire-safe insulation for every home. This is a major infrastructure priority and should be done on a community-wide basis, not by spending time identifying fuel-poor households who may then move house, or who may not want to be “targeted” in the first place. Bringing the UK’s housing up to European standards of warmth and energy efficiency will save lives and will cut down on carbon emissions — which, like fuel poverty, are killing many thousands.
Please consider if you’d like to consider putting forward your own views and experience – and get in touch with us asap, if so!
Email us at email@example.com
On Monday 2nd October, 10:10 climate action are launching a campaign that could force landlords to improve the very poorest quality uninsulated homes. Legislation was passed for this purpose, but there’s a loophole – the landlords can exempt themselves if it would cost them any money upfront! Lives are being lost as a result, from cold homes, and from climate change as well, and FPA are supporting this attempt to close the loophole. Look out for more information about a demonstration/photocall in London on the 2nd October, plus an online tool for tenants in hard-to-heat homes to see what extra you pay.
Cold homes, fuel poverty, climate change, millions of homes in debt to their energy supplier, huge profits for the Big Six… the energy system isn’t working.
Another energy system is possible! Get behind the Fuel Poverty Action Energy Bill of Rights