Since 2011 Fuel Poverty Action (FPA) has been confronting two related crises: the apocalypse of climate change, and the excruciating poverty that so many people in the UK are suffering. With gas prices going through the roof, and fossil fuels threatening life on earth, it is now widely accepted that these crises are inseparable.
FPA is a small, grassroots group based on volunteer labour, but it is now rapidly growing. We use lobbying, the media consultation responses, and our own invention: the “Warm Up”. Warm Ups are based on the principle that if you can’t afford to heat your own home you have a right to make yourself cosy in any public building and hold a meeting, a party, or a public speak-out sharing experience and discussing solutions. For obvious reasons, this gentle form of direct action is catching on.
What do we do?
We work with organisations of pensioners and disabled people – the ones most at risk of dying in cold homes, and most in peril if they can’t afford power for lighting, stair lifts, wheelchairs, and other urgent medical aids.
We support residents on housing estates with dysfunctional “heat networks” or missing insulation, fighting the heat provider and/or landlords.
We started the ball rolling on demanding a windfall tax on energy corporations’ huge profits, back during COP26 in 2021, and ever since have fought the “loopholes” in the government’s version of it, handing over 91p of taxpayers’ money for every pound invested in North Sea oil and gas.
We are fighting the violent imposition of prepayment (key) meters on people who fall behind on bills: the meters click off when not topped up regardless of illness, age, or disability, and they charge higher tariffs for gas and electricity. In this and many other ways, women, people of colour, and others on low incomes end up paying more than better-off neighbours.
We started the campaign for Energy For All (e4a), where each household will receive enough energy, free, to cover its basic needs like heating, lighting, cooking – and charging phones and medical or disability equipment. Energy For All will be paid for by higher tariffs on energy used beyond need, by windfall taxes and ending the millions spent daily on subsidising fossil fuels. It will give us all some security, and incentivise the government to insulate homes and switch to cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy. We handed in our petition on 19 October 2022 with 651,000 signatures. Support just continues to grow.
On the way to e4a we are fighting to end standing charges. These charges are a killer for people cutting their energy use to the bone. The less you use the more you pay more per unit – and the reverse is true for people who can afford to heat a mansion. Energy pricing is upside down!
We are proud to be members of the Warm This Winter Coalition, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, the Windfall Tax Coalition, and, in Europe, the Right to Energy Coalition.