We the undersigned call on the government to institute urgent fundamental changes to the present pricing structures for energy - the gas, electricity, oil, and heat supplied to UK homes. The new system we are calling for is Energy For All.
The present system is causing many thousands of deaths every year, especially among those who are most disadvantaged in society including diverse older and disabled people. It also causes widespread misery, ill health, and blighted childhoods.
Meanwhile, the huge sums being harvested from people living on scarce resources in poorly repaired and uninsulated homes, are going into the private holdings of billionaires, or being poured into investment in fossil fuels that are rapidly destroying the climate and the earth we live on.
We believe this situation requires fundamental change. Palliative measures and occasional financial relief do not solve the problem.
On 19 October Fuel Poverty Action delivered to 10 Downing St a petition with over 650,000 signatures for Energy For All. The next day, the Prime Minister resigned, and the petition was ignored. The petition suggested an alternative and fairer system: it said that each household should receive enough energy to cover its basic needs, paid for by higher tariffs on usage exceeding what is needed, and by windfall taxes and ending fossil fuel subsidies.
The basic principle of a free allocation of energy has been endorsed by many organisations including the TUC, New Economics Foundation, and, in a national poll, by 75% of the population. As organisations and as individuals in responsible positions in UK civil society, we now ask the government and opposition parties to implement this proposal, along with other principles which were laid out in the popular petition or which have been added since then.
Under Energy For All:
1. Each household will receive, free of charge, enough energy to ensure it can cover its needs. This includes for instance adequate heating, lighting, cooking, hot water, refrigeration, charging phone and digital connectivity, and where needed, hearing aids, medical equipment, stairlifts, and wheelchairs.
2. This free energy will be paid for by higher tariffs on usage exceeding what is needed, by windfall taxes on fossil fuel corporations, and by recouping the millions of pounds now spent daily on subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
3. UK housing will urgently be brought up to a standard where people are not made ill by their own homes. It is a scandal that homes in one of the world’s richest countries are the coldest and dampest in Europe. Safe, non-toxic, non-flammable insulation appropriate to the building, and sound heating systems must be installed by skilled workers in consultation with residents. All rented property must be kept in good repair. These measures will dramatically reduce the amount of energy required to meet provision number 1. They will put low income households on a par with better off neighbours who already need less energy, and it will greatly ease pressure on the NHS.
4. No household will be required to pay in advance for the energy they need by means of key or card prepayment meter in their home, or by means of a smart meter. There should be a permanent and statutory end to the installation of prepayment meters by court orders authorising intrusion in people’s homes, or remotely by smart meters set to prepayment mode. No one should be disconnected from vital supplies as a means of recovering debt.
5. There must be urgent attention to injustices in the energy pricing system. Including the relationship between pricing for electricity and for gas when renewable energy is cheaper, geographical discrepancies, exclusion of itinerant and some other communities from current benefits and provisions, unfairness in pricing for storage heaters, time of use payments and district heating, and the huge standing charges which presently penalise people who can only afford to use a little energy. Many of these issues, including the standing charge, will be resolved by Energy For All but they must be attended to while the new pricing system is brought in.
Note: This Manifesto is intended to be signed by organisations of all kinds, and by leaders in faith, educational, entertainment, research, governmental, or any other institution, whether national or local. Please include with your signature your title, and position in the organisation or institution, stating locality where relevant. And please pass it on to others.