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Budget Day rally will call on Chancellor to end rampant fuel poverty

The National Pensioners’ Convention says Ofgem’s lower price cap on energy bills from 1st April is ‘too little too late’ to help the millions struggling to pay.


That is why NPC members will join a major fuel poverty protest outside Parliament when the Chancellor stands to deliver his Budget Day speech next week (Wednesday, 6th March 2024).


Parliament Protest – 12pm Wednesday 6th March 2024


The NPC wants Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to announce emergency measures to help, not just the 5.3 million** in the UK already in debt to their energy providers, but the millions more set to follow them if nothing is done.


NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “We know thousands die each year in the UK from illnesses related to living in cold and damp conditions – these figures can only get worse if the Chancellor fails to act.”


“The government regulator Ofgem’s move to finally lower the price cap* on the amount that energy firms can charge people from 1st April is frankly too little too late. In fact, we are on average each paying more than £2,000 extra for our electricity and gas than three years ago. ***


“With a staggering 5.3 million now in debt to their providers due to years of rocketing costs, even a lower price cap on energy bills in April is unlikely to help them pay off what they owe. Worse still, those who have been forced onto pre-payment energy meters (PPMs) will simply be cut off and left in the cold because they cannot afford to top them up.  This can only serve to endanger more lives.”


Lower Ofgem price cap is ‘too little too late’


NPC members will rally at 12noon in College Green, opposite Parliament in London on Budget Day next Wednesday, 6th March, alongside Fuel Poverty Action, Unite Communities, and members of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. The ‘Cold Homes Kill’ protest will hear speeches before marching to Downing Street.  NPC members will also join other demonstrations in towns and cities around the UK (see below).


As the UK’s largest campaign group run for and by older people, the NPC says research has consistently shown that older and vulnerable people in particular are having to choose between heating their homes and buying food. But despite figures showing how many die from health conditions related to living in cold homes – there were 4,950 excess winter deaths in 2023/24 alone (End Fuel Poverty Coalition analysis) - we fear the Chancellor’s Budget will fail to address the crisis.


NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “At a time when the NHS and care services are struggling to cope, high heating costs and poorly insulated homes are the cause of many hundreds of thousands more, often older and vulnerable people ending up in hospital due to cold related illnesses. This is a totally avoidable tragedy.


“The Government’s Warm Homes Discounts, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments simply have not met the level of need.  What is needed is emergency support in the short term, and a long-term programme to upgrade millions of poorly insulated homes, and deal with ever-increasing heating bills. While energy providers continue to hike up their profits, people are struggling and dying. Until we have a basic level of free fuel, a removal of energy standing charges, and a complete end of the force-fitting of fuel prepayment meters in the homes of those who fall behind with  bills, - not to mention evictions - we will continue to see many more deaths.”


In his Budget speech on 6th March, it is widely anticipated the Chancellor will look to either cut taxes or even National Insurance as a Budget incentive to voters in this pre-General Election period.  However new research by YouGov for the Stop The Squeeze campaign found that 61% of respondents – including 70% of Conservative voters – chose energy bill support as one of the interventions they would most like to see in the Budget.  Energy bill support was found to be more than twice as popular as cuts to taxes on wages (29%). Yet, the Government is set to end both the Energy Price Guarantee and the Household Support Fund on 31st March 2024.


* Ofgem has announced that between 1st April to 30th June 2024 the energy price cap is set at £1,690 per year for a typical household who use electricity and gas and pay by Direct Debit. This is £238 lower than the cap set between 1 January to 31 March 2024 (£1,928) – it is the lowest rate for two years under the new price cap set by the regulator. The price cap is based on typical household energy use.


**Citizens’ Advice new research reveals 5.3 million people currently live in households in debt to their supplier. Another 800,000 people went more than 24 hours without gas or electricity last year because they couldn’t afford to top up. New analysis from Citizens Advice has found that more than two million people will disconnect from their power supply this winter because they can’t afford to top up their prepayment meter.


***The End Fuel Poverty Coalition – of which NPC is a member – has found that the average household has spent £2,300 more on energy bills since April 2021 than they would have done had prices remained stable. The data takes into account the Government support schemes set up to help households and means that, across the country, the additional spend by households on energy over the last three years totals more than £68bn. The new figures calculated by the Coalition come as Ofgem has lowered the price cap by around 12% for domestic energy bills. But the new cap level means gas and electricity costs remain 60% higher than in 2021 when the crisis began.


Further Budget Day Protests are expected in cities and towns around the UK – full list below. Contact e4a@fuelpovertyaction.org.uk to find an event near you.


FUEL POVERTY ACTION LIST OF REGIONAL PROTESTS ON OR AROUND BUDGET DAY 2024

 

Exeter

Time: 1pm Assemble

Location: Outside Exeter Central Railway Station - Queen Street Exeter Devon EX4 3SB


Bristol

Time; 11.30 at Tony Benn House - Victoria St, Redcliffe, Bristol BS1 6AY

Location: 12pm outside OVO (BS1 6ED) and then 1pm Broadmead, Bristol City Centre @ 1pm


Southampton

Time: 11am until 1pm

Location: At the Above Bar shopping precinct, outside Poundland. - 1-9 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DQ


Portsmouth

Time: 12 noon

Location: Outside the Civic Offices in Portsmouth - PO1 2AL


Birmingham

Time: 12 pm

Location: New Street Station - Station St, Birmingham B2 4QA


Chesterfield details to tbc

Contact: Shaun Pender (Unite Regional Coordinator 07914 851349)


Norwich – 5th March

Time: 11am-1pm

Location: Next to the Market, Gentleman’s Walk. - 1 Market Pl, Norwich NR2 1ND


Ipswich

Time: 11am onwards

Location: Outside Boots in Tavern Street, Ipswich -  5 Tavern St, Ipswich IP1 3AA


Manchester

Time: 1pm – 3pm

Location: Assemble @ Market Street outside Boots - 32 Market St, Manchester M1 1PL


Newport

Time: 12pm

Location: John Frost Square outside Kingsway Centre. Newport, Wales, NP201ED


Swansea

Time:  11am-1pm

Location: tbc

Contact: Mark Turner (Unite Regional Coordinator) 07977 928701


Sheffield

Time: 12pm – 2pm

Location: Outside The Moor market - 77 The Moor, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 4PF


Barnsley

Time: 12pm – 1.30pm

Location: Town centre precinct near Coffee Boy - The Glass Works, Barnsley S70 1GW


Leeds

Time: 11.30am – 2pm

Location: Leeds Bus Station. Funeral cortege from 12pm. - New York St, Leeds LS2 7HU


Halifax

Time: 12pm-2pm

Location: Southgate, above Market - 19 Albion St, Halifax HX1 1DU


Newcastle

Time: 11am-1.30pm

Location: Grey’s Monument - 150 Grainger St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5AF


Glasgow Easterhouse – 8th March

Time: 12pm – 2pm

Location: The Platform Cafe - Easterhouse, Glasgow, G34 9JW


North Ayrshire (5th March)

Time: 12.30pm – 2pm

Location: Bridgegate, Irvine. KA12 8BQ

 

ENDS


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