Protestors rallied to demonstrate outside Downing Street against a record 54% increase in energy bills – a devasting blow for our oldest and poorest.
The National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) organised the event, attended by members of Fuel Poverty Action, TUC, Trade Unions affiliated to NPC and pensioners’ groups across the southeast, outside the homes of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor yesterday (Monday, 7th February).
They are angry at the government’s ‘poor’ response to the cost-of-living crisis that is leaving older people in particular having to choose between eating and heating their homes in the coldest months of the year.
Tony O’Brien, NPC Housing Working Party Chair thanked everyone who supported the protest and called on the government to take more action to help those who are facing huge bills for energy, food and other essentials.
He said: “We now know that from April it will cost up to £700 more to heat the average home, and by October it will rise again by a further £300. With OFGEM now saying they will review gas prices every three months this price hike may even be sooner than October.
“Experts have forecast these price increases are likely to continue over the next three years. Yet the Government’s response has been poor - handing out a loan of £200 that will be paid back over the next five years, and giving a council tax rebate of £150, that will not be paid to those who live in properties rated E and above.
“The arrangements are less clear for the 25% of households who do not pay their council tax by direct debit, or to renters or sharers whose bills are included.
“The governments £150m to local authorities for discretionary payments to poorer families is a pittance when you consider those defined as being in fuel poverty will now increase to six million households. Yet, over the last 10 years £120 billion was paid out in profits to British based fuel companies.
“Today it’s even worse as we see poorer households left vulnerable to this cost-of-living crisis, sees child poverty rates rise to 4.3 million with record numbers of people using food banks and being made homeless. More people, those who are old and vulnerable are forced to either eat or heat and will suffer death and illness in greater numbers”.
Jan Shortt, General Secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention said:
“The extra burden of inflation and the extreme hike in fuel costs will put what is already the most inadequate state pension in the industrial world under severe pressure.
The government has betrayed pensioners by axing their manifesto promise to keep the state pensions triple lock for the length of parliament. In doing so, they have in one fell swoop consigned pensioners to a pension cut even before it comes into place in April 2022.
Before the crisis, older people were already making critical decisions on whether to heat their homes or cook hot food. Rishi Sunak's 'support' puts us in debt to the tune of £200 without even asking us. Furthermore, his package of 'support' is too little too late and will push more pensioners into poverty.
The huge profits of private companies and fuel providers over the years must be investigated and a contribution made to offset future hikes in fuel costs and ensure that everyone has the ability to stay warm without taking income away from their daily needs.
In what is still the 5th richest country in the world, the package is ill conceived, under par and will certainly not give older people the comfort of knowing they will not go cold or hungry this winter. He must do much better if we are to continue to believe that this government wants to 'protect pensioners.’
Download the press release below