Friday, 15 July 2011

Fuel poverty: can't pay, won't pay

This report - 'One in five households in fuel poverty as energy prices soar' - is extremely significant, especially when we consider the planned price hikes by British Gas and Scottish Power:

'Figures show a huge rise in UK households in fuel poverty, even before expected rises in the price of gas and electricity, and charities predicted that this winter would see millions more people struggling to keep warm at home.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics show 700,000 more UK families fell into fuel poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 5.5 million — one in five of all households. In the UK, fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel in order to heat its home to an adequate standard, and have hot water and run lights and appliances.

The department admitted that 100,000 more families in England alone were expected to go into fuel poverty this year.

The figures came less than a week after British Gas said its gas prices will rise by an average of 18% and electricity bills by 16%. Scottish Power has also raised its gas prices by 19% and electricity by 10%, while other power companies are expected to follow suit, blaming wholesale gas prices.'

An issue which goes to the heart of British politics today, it is fundamentally about who pays for the bailouts. We are looking at a fall in working class living standards and the poorest being hit hardest, while private firms make a profit and the rich don't notice any difference.

It would be good to see a serious movement - involving a range of trade unions - demanding the energy industry is re-nationalised, and perhaps even a mass 'can't pay, won't pay' campaign (like the one which killed the poll tax) taking off.

Wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not. It's something we in the anti-cuts movement should be urgently talking about.


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