This week I joined many community members in a petition hand-in to 10 Downing Street. The petition which calls on an Energy for All where everyone has a right to the energy needed for heating, cooking, and light had over 600,000 signatures. I spoke as a law centre worker and community activist in a rally before the petition hand-in along side many allies calling for a fairer fuel system.
Below is our speach in full:
For the past decade South West London Law Centres has been operating within a legal advice sector that has had its funding restricted despite demand rapidly increasing and austerity devastating our communities. This is the worst it has been over that ten-year period.
In September we launched a new cost of living project – this is project work as there are no national or local government funds for this type of work. The project is already overwhelmed. We get referrals from social services, local councillors, MPs, and GP social prescribers who are seeing people so worried about how they’re going to pay their bills it’s affecting their mental and physical health. People who come to the Law Centre needing legal advice about their employment, housing or family situation are also needing crisis intervention because their energy bills are unaffordable.
We are nowhere near big enough to meet the current need. We’re doing what we can to expand but this cannot be the answer alone. Something needs to change. We need a radical new policy on how energy is funded to ensure everyone’s basic needs of heating and eating are met. We need energy for all.
I hope that the huge support the petition received will show politicians and the government that we need radical solutions this winter and an #EnergyForAll.
Over 20 MPs from multiple parties also attended to show their support for the demand. A day prior to the petition hand-in, Early Day Motion 470: Proposed Energy Equity Commission Bill was launched in parliament. The bill would realise some of the key components of the ‘Energy For All’ implementing a Universal basic energy allowance, supplemented by a social tariff and a national street-by-street insulation and retrofitting program.
If you agree with this Early Day Motion (EDM) you can write to your MP asking them to support the EDM.
Fuel Poverty Action have created this online tool that will generate a letter to your MP asking them to support the EDM: Ask your MP to support a Universal Basic Energy Allowance – Action Network.
What are Early day motions?
Early day motions (EDMs) are motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed.
As there is no specific time allocated to EDMs very few are debated. However, many attract a great deal of public interest and media coverage. Read more about EDMs here!