Campaigners will today take their anger to the offices of Department of Energy & Climate Change to express their dissatisfaction with rising energy bills and increased fuel poverty.
The demonstrations are part of a UK-wide week of action on fuel poverty entitled Stop the Great Fuel Robbery, called by direct action-group Fuel Poverty Action. Yesterday, demonstrators targeted the Edinburgh headquarters of Scottish Gas. Other protests will take place in Nottingham, Lewisham, Haringey, Hackney and Southwark.
Campaigners will present Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey with giant mock fuel bills, bearing the slogan “Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay.”
Protesters have gathered outside Scottish Gas’ headquarters in Edinburgh to campaign against rising profits while one in four people are living in fuel poverty.
James Granger, campaigner for Fuel Poverty Action, said many people are “being forced to make an impossible choice between heating and eating, while the profits of the big six energy companies just keep going up”.
Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action is planning to protest outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, in central London, to call on ministers to act for families facing the impossible choice between eating and heating.
Rising energy costs have left more than six million households in the UK in fuel poverty because they spend more than 10% of their income on heating their homes, the group said.
Offices of energy companies, local government and housing providers were targeted by protesters over the weekend in a series of co-ordinated nationwide activities to fight rising fuel prices and the increasing number of people forced into fuel poverty.
Elizabeth Ziga from Fuel Poverty Action said: “We want to challenge the big six energy companies which control 99 per cent of the energy industry and make record profits off our rising bills.
“Thousands die each year in the UK because they cannot afford to heat their homes, and hundreds of thousands die globally due to climate change. The Government is in bed with these companies, is doing nothing to deal with the poor quality of housing many of us experience, and to make matters worse has just cut the winter fuel allowance.”
Fuel poverty activists gained access to the headquarters of British Gas and occupied a room near the office of its managing director, Phil Bentley, for six hours to protest “profiteering” by energy suppliers.
Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action said the incident was part of a weekend of activity targeting energy companies, local government and housing providers “over fuel poverty and corporate greed”. There was a protest outside supplier nPower’s offices in Swindon on Friday.
A group of protesters occupied the headquarters of British Gas in Surrey to protest households suffering “fuel poverty”.
Robert Evans, 25, who was one of the occupiers, said: “There were six of us on two floors, three in each room. We just walked in at about 8.30 this morning. We left at about 4.30pm because police were trying to force their way in so we thought it best to leave on our own terms. We hope that this action and 10 others that took place over the weekend will help to change the energy system and start the move for millions of households suffering fuel poverty towards a fair, green energy system.”
Activists occupied the British Gas headquarters in Surrey for more than seven hours to protest at fuel bills. Six people “barricaded themselves into meeting rooms” at about 09:00 GMT, Fuel Poverty Action said.
Hannah Edler, a 27-year-old protester, said: “We could have a fairer system where our energy is owned by communities who decide how it is priced and produced.”
Six activists have barricaded themselves inside British Gas offices, according to reports. The protesters are campaigning against fuel poverty and what they claim is “Big Six profiteering”. The protestors have been at the energy supplier’s building in Staines, Middlesex since this morning and appear to have handed flyers to staff and strung a banner across the main entrance.
The demonstration is organised by campaign group Fuel Poverty Action as part of a set of national protests called the ‘Winter Warm-Up’ weekend, targeting energy companies, local government and housing providers over fuel poverty. Protestor Hannah Edler, 27, said: “Heat or Eat is a choice no-one should have to face. The Big Six energy companies are raking in record profits while our bills rise… We’re here to put ourselves in the way of this shameless profiteering.”
Fuel Poverty Action Group campaigns outside EDF Energy headquarters to highlight awareness of the 25,700 excess winter deaths in the UK in 2010-11.
Pensioner Linda Powell is sat shivering on a London street, her teeth chattering beneath blue lips as she uses a cardigan to keep warm. Fortunately for Powell she is only pretending to be a victim of fuel poverty – she is taking part in an organised “die-in” outside the headquarters of EDF Energy overlooking Green Park, London.
Nevertheless Powell, 61, thinks the situation is a disgrace: “I’ve just become a pensioner and I’ve received my winter fuel allowance of £200, down from £250 thanks to the government. I am having to hold back on putting my central heating on, and do everything to cut back. I have to turn off the heating when I go out, and I only heat one room. I’m just about keeping going, to be honest.”
Ruth, a Londoner in her 60s, was among them: “I’m here on behalf of older people who have worked all their lives and now can’t afford to heat their homes. For us it is the choice between eating or heating, which is no choice at all because the better you eat, the more chance you will remain healthy. It’s not just the cold that’s killing us, it’s the profiteer energy companies.”