2MN UK homes in fuel poverty, Energy Rights Bill launched
On Monday the House of Commons will launch the Energy Bill of Rights, advocating both fair pricing and sustainable energy sources. The campaign, pioneered by Fuel Poverty Action, aims to make energy “fairer, affordable” and “sustainable”.
The Annual Fuel Poverty report by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggests the inability to afford energy bills killed 10,000 Britons in 2013. It also found over 2million UK households are living in fuel poverty. This accounts for 10.4 percent of the population.
While the figures for 2014 constitute a reduction of almost 5 percent since 2011, fuel poverty still affects 30 percent of unemployed households.
The eight point manifesto launched on Monday tackles prominent issues surrounding fuel poverty. Most significantly, campaigners wish to hold the government responsible for the provision of environmentally friendly energy and the continued supply for those living in poor conditions.
No Dash for Gas said the Bill “unites what politicians have tried so hard to pull apart” – the need for affordable energy and the environmental concerns surrounding fossil fuels.
“As we face another freezing winter, millions are preparing to self-disconnect, and ration heat and food, while the big energy companies rake in eye-watering profits from burning expensive and climate-destroying fossil fuels,” a Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson told RT.
The manifesto states that the standing charge for energy should be abolished, together with calls for a complete boycott of fracking and other unsustainable practices.
It further claims that access to energy is a basic right and that consumers who are unable to pay their utility bills should not be immediately disconnected. They believe power should be shifted from the provider to the consumer.
“Countless [men and women’s] physical and mental health paid the price of living in fuel poverty,” the Fuel Poverty Action spokesperson told RT. “With the government seemingly disinterested in taking any serious action on the issue, we are seeking to establish Energy Rights as a way to protect ourselves from fuel poverty and the brutal for-profit energy system.”
According to the Annual Fuel Poverty report, the overall number of people living in fuel poverty is forecast to rise in 2014, largely due to the expected increase in fuel prices.
The worst affected areas in the UK are the West Midlands and East Midlands 15 percent and 13 percent respectively live in fuel poverty. The South East and East have the lowest proportion, with 8 and 9 percent.
The bill has won the sponsorship of Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour left-wingers Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnel.
Lucas, the main sponsor of the bill, is a staunch advocate of renewable energy, and on October 22 called for MP’s pensions to be divested from fossil fuels.
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has voiced concerns, however, that committing to more environmentally friendly forms of energy will constitute an unsustainable level of investment.
The Bill has already been endorsed by groups such as Climate Revolution, Campaign Against Climate Change, Quakers, UK Uncut and the World Development Movement.