Opinion

Why we need Energy for All, a radical and permanent solution to the energy pricing crisis

Energy for All could be the solution to the energy crisis, argue fuel poverty campaigners Ruth London and Jonathan Bean.

Energy For All on the march in October 2022. Image: Amalric Pouzoulet

Don’t let the government fool you, the energy crisis is not fading away as winter ends. Food prices may have been the driving force behind the surprise rise in inflation, up to 10.4 per cent in the year to February, but anyone paying attention to their energy bills will tell you prices aren’t going down either.

Yes, as the days get longer fewer people will freeze to death because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly. But it’s only a temporary respite while millions work out how to cope with their accumulated debt. Winter will return, and prices are set to be twice historic levels for years.

The Energy For All campaign was launched last year by Fuel Poverty Action, and rapidly gained over 650,000 petition signatures. It means each household would receive — free — enough energy for their warmth, washing, lighting, cooking, refrigeration and health needs.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

In a national poll, 75 per cent backed the basic idea, as did the TUC and grassroots organisations like Disabled People Against Cuts. But we needed to prove the vision was achievable.

It is. Energy is only expensive because huge profits are being made. The gas price crisis has not been a crisis of rising costs. It’s been a crisis of shameless greed.

The money we need to keep warm and feed our children is being sucked up into mega profits which go to wealthy shareholders or – worse – fund further investment in fossil fuels. Oil and gas are expensive, polluting fuels and they are threatening life on earth. Yet they are subsidised with millions of pounds of public money each day.

Energy For All would be funded in large part by increased windfall taxes and an end to these obscene subsidies, and by higher tariffs on wasteful, extravagant use.

Now new research by the New Economics Foundation has proved the idea would work. Whilst other ideas like a social tariff offer a painkiller, our plan deals with the parasites feeding off our energy system.

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

The launch of our manifesto this week is the start of the next phase: the fight to turn our plan into policy. The manifesto draws out the implications of Energy For All. Incentivising the government to fix our housing, the coldest and dampest in Europe. Permanently ending the nightmare of homes being broken into to install a prepayment meter that clicks off when you can’t top it up. Ending the injustices of huge standing charges that mean people who use little energy pay more for it than those who heat their private swimming pools. Freeing the price of cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy from being tied to the price of gas.

The manifesto already has nearly 100 organisations signed up to support its demands. It will be launched Thursday evening, 23 March at an online event. Speakers include MPs, pensioners groups, climate activists, trade unions and big NGOs. The next step is a launch in parliament. Can you press your MP to support us? Get in touch to get involved!

Ruth London and Jonathan Bean are campaigners with Fuel Poverty Action, a grassroots campaigning organisation.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this topic? We want to hear from you. And we want to share your views with more people. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Poverty prevention is our best hope. Here's some tangible ways to keep people warm, dry and fed
Tom Clark

Poverty prevention is our best hope. Here's some tangible ways to keep people warm, dry and fed

If Rishi Sunak is so keen on our national identity, why is this British icon up for sale?
Paul McNamee

If Rishi Sunak is so keen on our national identity, why is this British icon up for sale?

Stacey Solomon is not afraid of having a go. She even makes DIY look easy
Lucy Sweet

Stacey Solomon is not afraid of having a go. She even makes DIY look easy

How the Northern Ballet's empty orchestra pit perfectly sums up UK's arts crisis 
Naomi Pohl

How the Northern Ballet's empty orchestra pit perfectly sums up UK's arts crisis 

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know