Hundreds of people are to take to the streets of London on Tuesday to protest against the big six energy companies that are raising household bills.
Under the banner “Bring down the big six – fuel poverty kills”, campaign groups including UK Uncut and the Greater London Pensioners Association will march on the headquarters of Npower in the City of London at midday.
Sarah Price of UK Uncut explained, “The big six are an example of incredible corporate greed. Huge profits are extracted from the public whilst they suffer at the hands of austerity. David Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires are only too happy to stuff the pockets of big business while ordinary people are left out in the cold.
“The combined wealth of cabinet ministers is £70m and they will never feel the pain of those who can’t afford their energy bills this winter. People must be put before profit, and with creative direct action, we will stand with the elderly, the poor and vulnerable to fight for our power.”
The activists say Npower is being targeted specifically as its winter price rise – at an average of 10.4% – is the highest to be announced so far. From December 1, the average Npower annual bill will rise by £141 to £1,493, according to price comparison site MoneySuperMarket.
As a result of price increases across the board, energy bosses have been recently summoned before a committee of MPs to explain the reasons for the hikes.
Many high profile individuals, such as former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major and the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, have criticised the companies for overlooking moral obligations and leaving consumers with the impossible decision of choosing between “eating and heating”.
The protest organisers add that Npower paid no corporation tax over the last three years, despite reporting a 34% profit rise of £413m last winter while around 300,000 people fell into fuel poverty.
People in Oxford, Lewes and Bristol will simultaneously take to the streets in protests aimed to coincide with the release of statistics revealing how many people died in the UK last year because they could not afford to heat their homes. The World Health Authority has estimated that 7,200 died last winter due to cold homes.
A recent report found that the UK is second from bottom in a ranking comparing levels of fuel poverty in European countries, bettering only Estonia. There are currently over 5m UK households living in fuel poverty, meaning they need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy to keep warm.