We are in an energy crisis. Winter is around the corner and cold kills. For thousands of local families, single parents and lone pensioners, the immediate dilemma is whether to Heat or Eat.
On top of the 25% of homes currently in fuel poverty thousands more are destined to become a further grim statistic. Many media reports and commentators talk of a ‘global crisis’ as if this was a natural phenomenon and beyond anyone’s control. It is not. Fuel poverty is a class issue.
The price of gas, electric, petrol and home heating oil are being inflated by the privately owned companies which control the vast majority of the earth’s natural resources. They are doing what capitalist companies do. To claw back the effects of the downturn in energy use during the worst of the pandemic and lockdowns, they are now pursuing the maximum profit regardless of the consequences. World prices are deliberately manipulated upwards. Neither availability nor supply are the issues. Profiteering is.
What has been the response of The Executive, the Assembly and of MLA’s? Despite a first draft having been written over ten years ago we still have no Fuel Poverty Strategy to tackle the existing problems, let alone deal with the additional ones.
Cold does not discriminate but economics do. It is people and families on lower incomes and in poorer housing conditions who will suffer most and who will be least resourced to meet increasing bills.
The Workers Party has contacted the First and Deputy First Ministers’ Office and the Department of Communities to demand that the Executive formally acknowledges the current energy crisis and takes the following five remedial actions:
Confirm an initial emergency fuel payment of £250 for every household
Restore and secure the £20 Universal Credit uplift
Initiate a comprehensive home insulation scheme
Legislate for a Fuel Poverty Strategy to address current and future need
Prioritise renewable energies over fossil fuels
These are immediate and realisable actions which must be taken now to offset the worst effects of the immoral price hikes and to protect the most vulnerable.
The longer term struggles to protect and secure our environment, and ensure affordable energy for all, must focus on reclaiming the ownership of the world’s natural resources from private hands. It is here that the real battle for the environment must be waged. It is here that all our efforts must be directed.
Only when these resources are brought under public control and developed by a socialist economy will fuel poverty and a ravaged environment be a thing of the past. There are no compromises, there are no alternatives.