Activism

'People have had enough': Cost of living protests to take place across the UK

Protests are set to take place across major cities after the news that energy bills will increase by more than 50 per cent.

rishi sunak

Rishi Sunak announced £9bn of support - but admits it will only cover half the rise in energy bills. Image: Parliament

Protests are set to take place across the country as anger rises over the cost of living crisis following the 54 per cent increase in energy prices.

Activists are promising to take over the centres of towns and cities including London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, and Birmingham on Saturday.

The energy price cap will increase by £693 at the start of April, and despite chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing £9billion in support, people across the UK face having to decide between heating or eating.

Ramona McCartney, a national organiser with the People’s Assembly, told The Big Issue: “I think this is going to be something we haven’t seen in a very long time.

“It’s got a feeling like the poll tax protests, that feeling where people have had enough.”

Organised by groups including the People’s Assembly, Revolutionary Socialism, Disabled People Against Cuts, and Fuel Poverty Alliance, the protests plan to draw attention to not just the rise in energy prices, but the cost of living crisis in general.

Sunak’s £9billion package, which included a £200 loan to households which would be paid off through higher future energy bills, led him to be dubbed the “Klarna chancellor”.

Around 22 million households will be hit by the increase in bills, as the cap rises to £1,971 for those on direct debits and £2,017 for those on pre-payment meters.

Paula Peters, a disability rights activist with Disabled People Against Cuts, told The Big Issue that disabled people had been starving, freezing, and dying even before this new increase in energy costs.

“The cost of living crisis is killing us. Austerity has been killing us for 11 years and it’s swept under the carpet – that’s why we’re supporting this demo,” Peters said.

The widely-publicised choice between heating and eating has, for many years not been a choice, Peters added – with many disabled people not being able to afford either.

“It’s an absolute nightmare that we’ve been living in for 11 years. The cost of living crisis means we cannot afford to eat or heat. We’re just barely surviving and there are a great many who are no longer with us. It’s killing on a double front,” Peters said.

Charlotte, an organiser with Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, told The Big Issue: “This is something that affects so many people, and not just the people who might make a habit of turning out to protests.

“It could be a really unifying thing – we wanted to show that the issues of rent prices, low pay, workplace struggles, and gas prices are basically affecting all regular people. We want to give people an opportunity to come together and see that.”

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After news of the 54 per cent rise, Sunak also said Brits should brace themselves for a further price rise in the autumn.

McCartney said the crisis – which is expected to last into 2023 – would prove a breaking point for many.

She said: “It’s the final straw for people in this country after 10 years of brutal austerity. The country’s already on its knees.

“In one of the richest countries in the world, we’re literally living in something like a Victorian era, with people choosing whether to heat or eat.

“Right now, ordinary people don’t feel like they have a voice. I think that’s the reason people are going to come out on the streets to have their voices heard on the twelfth.”

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