CLIMATE-CHANGE activists swooped on David Cameron’s constituency office yesterday to stage a “love-in” protest against his tendency to get “in bed with the big six” energy companies.
Reclaim the Power campaigners, one wearing a mask of the Prime Minister’s face, doorstepped his constituency office in Witney, Oxford, to highlight the hardship that the great British fuel rip-off has caused cash-strapped customers.
Gas will become around £250 more expensive to use annually over the next five years, protesters say, while energy retailers such as privatised British Gas, European giant Eon, nPower and French state-owned EDF have seen their profits increase tenfold.
Maya Stacey of Reclaim the Power said: “The new Tory government are in bed with the fossil-fuel industry. This continued cosying up with the big six energy companies has got to stop.
“Corporations are raking in the profits from dirty energy, while Britain’s most vulnerable citizens are dying from fuel poverty, unable to heat and power their homes.”
At least 15,000 mainly elderly and vulnerable people died last year due to being left in the cold in their own homes after high prices had pushed them into fuel poverty.
Some 1.7 million older people cannot afford heating, according to Age Concern, and a whopping 6.6 million across Britain have had to choose between eating and heating.
Pensioner Ruth London, who joined another Reclaim the Power protest yesterday outside British Gas, said: “It is a scandal that thousands die of cold in one of the richest countries in the world.
“British Gas, which profits from the policies causing many of these deaths, bears a heavy responsibility.”
The conglomerates have also been accused of forcing their way into the homes of the poorest, who may have fallen into debt during frosty weather, to install pre-payment meters that charge them extortionate rates compared to other customers.
The big six dodged a bullet when Labour lost the general election, as Ed Miliband had promised to make them slash their prices by handing regulator Ofgem greater power to issue penalties.
But Campaign for Public Ownership spokesman Neil Clark predicted that the companies would face growing protests as their profits continued to soar.
“This is an issue that will get bigger and bigger,” he told the Star. “The complete absence of renationalisation is creating a democratic deficit, which leads to direct action by protesters as signs of public frustration. This government has offered us nothing and Cameron is in bed with the energy companies. It’s just not good enough.”
Compensation paid out by energy firms to their customers totalled more than £31 million last year alone, according to Ofgem, of which £12 million was paid out by Eon.
Reclaim the Power also has activists camping out in a field near Didcot B power station, just 20 miles from Mr Cameron’s constituency, in protest at the expansion of gas power and the harm it is causing to the planet.