Fuel poverty is a harsh reality. The ‘official’ figure in Northern Ireland is 22% of households. Fuel poverty charities are now warning that recent energy price increases will push thousands of additional households into further fuel poverty.
The current energy crisisis a symptom of the crisis underlying global capitalism. The working class, the unemployed, the poor, those unable to work due to illness or disability, the elderly and retired are the ones who bear the brunt.
Recurring price rises, combined with the end of the furlough scheme and the withdrawal of the £20 uplift in universal credit, leaves thousands facing a bitter winter.
As the weather gets colder people, faced with extortionate and rising bills, are struggling to heat their homes and are living in cold and dangerous conditions which, in stark terms, means many will become ill and will die as a result.
These tragedies are preventable. Energy is an essential service. The Workers Party has already made a number of immediate demands to mitigate the effects of fuel poverty and is also demanding the nationalisation of the energy network, calling for a publicly owned energy system.
The energy sector must be taken into public ownership. This will help address avaricious energy prices, alleviate fuel poverty and assist in the battle against climate change.
Public ownership would also ensure protection for the jobs of thousands of workers in the energy sector.
It is time to tackle the myth that the market and “consumer choice” can provide a solution. This model has patently failed. Lining the pockets of the capitalist class will only deepen the problems.
While an energy policy that is truly sustainable, meets the needs of the people and minimises damage to the environment is only realisable under a planned economy in a socialist system, now is the time to demand the immediate public ownership of the energy system.