Archives For energy

1) ‘That’s rich’ – Osborne feigns concern for energy costs to consumers. Election time is here.

Image: businessforscotland.co.uk

Image: businessforscotland.co.uk

Chancellor George Osborne and the Tories attempted to double back on energy policy they had promoted and voted for to feign concern for the public. Unsurprising that this has happened four months before the election, as Michael Meacher explained in his post last week:

“It’s really rich that Osborne has tweeted: “Vital this (drop in the oil price) is passed on to families at petrol pumps, through utility bills and air fares”.   He’s spent the last 5 years lambasting Labour in support of the Tory free market mantra that the State should get out of the way and leave it all to the markets.   Now rather pathetically he’s pleading with market operators to show a dose of fair play rather than exploit a windfall for their own interests which is the natural instinct of capitalism.   It takes some gall for Osborne to try to jump on the bandwagon at the last minute, four months before the election, when he’s been aggressively promoting ruthless self-interest throughout his chancellorship.”

Osborne’s gesture is made even more hypocritical and insincere when taking into account the Tory participation in the vote AGAINST giving the UK’s energy regulator a statutory duty to pass on energy savings to customers when wholesale prices fall. You can see a list of who voted against and for on the Vox Political site here.

The cost of this self-interest goes much further than hypocrisy before an election. Last year, there were 18,000 excess winter deaths in the UK, with more than 6,000 dying from the impact of a cold home.

2) Manifesto calls on next government to end homelessness

A manifesto sent to politicians by Homeless.org calls on those seeking the next government to vow to end homelessness by focusing on five key areas. “Let’s Make the Difference” uses the experiences of those who have been homeless, and the services that support them, to understand what is needed from government.

The manifesto says that it is ‘unacceptable’ that people are sleeping rough in Britain today. And they are right. We have the resources to house every person in this country, yet homelessness is rising, increasing in cost to the public purse and the mental and physical health of those out on the streets.

Homeless.org.uk

Homeless.org.uk

Read the manifesto in brief and find out more about homeless,org here. 

Read the full manifesto here.

3) Greens have more members than UKIP

The number of Green Party members overtook UKIP numbers last week.

“On Thursday morning Green Party sources said it had 43,829 members as of midday. Ukip’s reported membership is 41,966.

Green Party sources also claimed to have put on 2,000 members yesterday, in what potentially is its biggest one-day surge in numbers ever.”

The news comes as The Green Party leader Natalie Bennett battles for a spot on TV debates.

Ofcom ruled that the Greens were not a ‘major party’ in the way that Lib Dems, UKIP, Conservatives and Labour are. However, following this increase in members many are calling this ruling into question.

David Cameron said that he would not take part in the debates if the Greens were not included, and has been accused of using this as an excuse to avoid the debates. Clegg said the idea of Cameron’s concern for a fair debate with the Greens included was ‘laughable’.

Read more about this story here.

4) Farage faces challenge from FUKP

Al Murray’s comic character, The Pub Landlord, has announced he is standing for election in Thanet alongside Nigel Farage, for the Guv’nor’s newly formed Free United Kingdom Party “because it’s time for a man waving around a pint offering some common sense solutions.”

The landlord sets out 13 points as his manifesto in this following video, assuring voters he will “make Thanet the capital of the UK” with “pints for 1p” adding:

“Let it be known that like many of the Parliamentary hopefuls in the forthcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is – but did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No.”

5) Government names and shames 37 National Minimum Wage offenders

The government released the names of 37 employers who failed to pay the National Minimum Wage to employees on 15th January. Business Minister Jo Swinson released names and penalties totalling £51,000 for the employers who owe £177,000 collectively. This follows the release of 55 other offenders since the ‘naming regime’ came into force in October 2013.

Employers face fines of up to £20,000 for paying below the minimum wage, currently set at £6.50 for those aged 21+. Jo Swinson has announced that government are now looking to apply this penalty per employee rather than per company.

You can find the list of employers here.

 

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Thomas Barlow – @tbarls

Image: Grow Heathrow

Image: Grow Heathrow

Last week we talked about Dual Power…

Yates McKee describes a dual power approach as “forging alliances and supporting demands on existing institutions — elected officials, public agencies, universities, workplaces, banks, corporations, museums — while at the same time developing self-organized counter-institutions.”

This week we look at one specific aspect of that – counter power.  Building the new in the shell of the old.

Below we have a list of organisations that are doing everything from simple basics, like where you put your money and what you buy, to creating whole new ways of eating, building and providing energy.  We don’t want to just be pointing out the flaws in this disastrous system we live in, we want to help find the solutions and get involved.

We hope that in the coming times when people say to you ‘nice idea but it wouldn’t work’  you can point to this list and say ‘but it already is…’.

Please take a little time a click on the links – there is a lot of amazing information here.

  1. MONEY 

    From moving your money, to creating a new system of making money…

  1. HOUSING 

    Building houses, co-owning, squatting -there are ways for us to have a house

LILAC Image: Construction 21

LILAC Image: Construction 21

  1. FOOD 

    Buying locally?  Or growing your own?

  1. ENERGY

    Build your own, or take your cash away from the big 6

  1. MEDIA

    Our new campaign!  And some of the great channels out there:

  1. EDUCATION 

    This is something that is more developed in other countries, but it is only a matter of time before we see an alternative education system develop fully here

Image: Brandalism

Image: Brandalism

  1. CULTURE  

    Just some examples of radical art, music, and think tanks – there needs to be more!

  1. WORK 

    How we can manage our own work places, for better pay, more satisfaction and less hours

  1. TRANSPORT + URBAN PLANNING

  1. HEALTH CARE + EMERGENCY SERVICES

    We have no plan how to provide these- nationalisation and de-privatisation are the best options here

  1. TECHNOLOGY

    This is something that can liberate and us and can be seen all around in the modern world.  There are so many different kinds of movements we haven’t listed them here, but check out any open source projects if you are into using your skills for good!

  • Internet

  • 3D printing

  • Open Source

  • Automation

Image: threedeeprinting

Image: threedeeprinting

From http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk:

TRTP 2014his summer stand up for social, environmental and economic justice.

Thursday 14th – Wednesday 20th August 2014

BLACKPOOL

We’re excited to stand in solidarity with the community groups on the front-line of the fight against fracking.   Transport info here.

Support the community fightback

Get skilled up and take direct action

Build the world you want to see

SEE A FULL PROGRAMME HERE.

Reclaim Our Energy

kamsandhu —  August 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

We know that if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change we need to leave 80% of Fossil Fuels in the ground.

 

Image: Climate Revolution

Image: Climate Revolution

 

We also know that if we meet our climate change targets we will be 62% less dependent on foreign oil and gas.

Finally we know that the ‘Big 6’ energy companies have a basic monopoly over our gas and electricity bills and that they are rising them year on year despite falling energy costs for them.

Yet our government is determined to continue the dash for gas – building more gas power stations and bribing/forcing communities into having fracking on their doorstep. 

Why? So these six companies can keep making enormous profits and destroying the planet?

We need to reclaim our energy.

We can create jobs, save money on our fuel bills and make sure that our communities have a safe, clean source of energy for a long, long time.

Our governments and large corporations should be supporting and investing in energy efficiency, house insulation and renewable energy. But as they have vested interests to do the opposite, to maintain profit and power for themselves, we must look to ourselves.

We can follow energy projects like the carbon coop and create renewable power for our community that keeps us off the grid and saves us money.

We can invest in retrofitting our houses, and creating energy efficiency.

All of this creates jobs, and brings communities together. We can do this now. We don’t need to be told what our energy future is, we can create it ourselves.

We can reclaim our energy.

Thomas Barlow

1) Queen’s Speech confirms move to frack under homes without permission. Greenpeace turn PM’s home into drilling site.

The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday confirmed that government would overhaul trespass laws to allow energy companies to frack under homes without permission.

Greenpeace responded by sending a bunch of activists to the Oxfordshire home of David Cameron, in order to turn his home into a drilling site.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Greenpeace also have a petition to sign to protest against these new laws. Sign the petition here.

Talk Fracking are holding their debates around the country this week too, so don’t forget to get down to one near you.

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Read more about this story here. 

2) Tories spark outrage in report to UN claiming welfare reforms would help the nation’s poorest children out of poverty

The government was branded “dishonest” following a report given to the UN that claimed welfare reforms and benefit cuts would help the poorest children out of poverty. Reforms are actually pushing more people into poverty with some reports claiming we will have 5 million below the poverty line by 2020, and food bank usage continues to rise.

The Scottish government tried to get the claim removed from the report, but were blocked from doing so.

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Image: backbencher.co.uk

Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell commented:

“This report is downright insulting to the thousands of children driven into poverty by the Tories.

“The Scottish Government are straining every sinew to help families hit by welfare cuts but tens of thousands more children are facing poverty in coming years because of the Tories. That is the reality.

“In a country as rich as Scotland, food banks have never been busier. That is a national scandal.

“Instead of telling the truth, the Tories are censoring Scotland’s view and refusing to tell the UN the reality of their cuts. That is simply dishonest.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Mass strike likely for 10 July

Several large unions along with other civil servants are making plans to strike on 10 July against damaging austerity and public sector pay freezes.

It will be the largest co-ordinated action for two years if the strike goes ahead, with over 1 million workers taking part.

Unions involved include Unison, Unite, GMB, PCS and the NUT.

Read more about this story here.

4) Tory donors given £1.5bn in NHS contracts

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has uncovered links between tory party supporters and the companies awarded NHS contracts worth £1.5bn.

NHS logo

NHS logo

Circle Health, the biggest profiters, were given £1.36bn in contracts after several investors donated £1.5m to the Conservatives. Burnham said:

“Nobody gave David Cameron ­permission to sell the NHS to his friends.

“It’s shocking the same Tory donors who ­bankrolled the development of their NHS reorganisation policy are now ­profiting from the sell-off of NHS services.”

Circle’s biggest contract was £1bn to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. A Tory spokesman responded that the decision to contract out Hinchingbrooke was taken by Andy Burnham.

Still, Circle profits in the time of the coalition government have gone up from £64.6 million in 2010/2011 to £170.4 million in 2011/2012.

Read more about this story here.

5) 25 employers named and shamed after failing to pay minimum wage

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

The government have released a list of 25 employers who were breaking the law by paying below the minimum wage, following laws that came into effect last October.

Employers were investigated by HMRC after staff called a free helpline to report they were being underpaid.

“They include a school in Edinburgh which underpaid an employee by £3,739 and a garage in Bradford that failed to pay a worker £6,426.”

BBC News

Employers found to be underpaying staff can face a penalty of up to £20,000. Legislation is underway to change this to a maximum penalty of £20,000 per employee that is underpaid.

Read more about this story here.

6) ‘Studs’ designed to deter rough sleepers from central London flats condemned by public

Anti-homeless metal studs have been installed outside a block of flats in Southwark to deter rough sleepers. Andrew Horton, 33, took a photo of them and posted it on Twitter as he walked to work on Wednesday starting a Twitter condemnation of the tactic.

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

The images posted on Twitter by Horton

Other photos were posted of the studs used elsewhere. Homelessness charities say the studs have been used for over a decade.

“Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, said: “This is happening in a context where rough sleeping has gone up massively. Over the last three years rough sleeping has risen by 36% nationally and by 75% in London. More than 6,400 people slept rough in London last year.”

“The reason for that increase is the continuing economic downturn, thehousing shortage, and cuts to benefits, particularly housing benefit.”

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Energy Prices: The Facts

kamsandhu —  November 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

Today, Fuel Poverty Action will stage a demonstration against the Big Six, outside the Npower offices. You can find out more info about the event here.

Energy prices have gone up 37% since 2010 – eight times the average wage increase since then. The decision of heating or eating is a very real prospect for many families and individuals up and down the country, as the number of people using foodbanks also continues to rise.

With the Big Six Energy companies, who are Npower, Scottish Power, E.On, EDF, British Gas and SSE, increasing their prices by a further 8-10% just before winter, the rates of fuel poverty continue to rise and over 24,000 elderly deaths are expected as a result of cold homes.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

The energy companies insist that the reason for the steep increases is due to wholesale price rises, but this is not true. As this graph shows, wholesale prices have actually gone down since the recession first hit in 2008 (thanks to Tom Pride’s blog):

Image: Pride's Purge - tompride.wordpress.com

Image: Pride’s Purge – tompride.wordpress.com

When Ed Miliband promised to freeze energy prices for 18 months should he be elected in 2015, he was shouted down by Conservatives who claimed this could not be done because energy companies could raise prices before and after. Still, this brought the struggle to meet these bloated price rises to the forefront, and also highlighted the extent to which the country is being held to ransom by the Big Six.

Cameron now wants to drop the ‘green levy’ having been put under pressure to deal with the cost of living. But this is another step in the favour of energy companies and not the public.

The ‘green levy’ or Climate Change levy makes up around 9% of the average bill, around £112 of £1267 yearly bill. This money goes to creating renewable energy sources such as wind-farms and solar power as well as money towards helping the elderly and the poor with their bills.

Dropping this levy has been lobbied for by the Big Six, and the impact will only serve to bolster their profits, whilst energy alternatives are pushed further and further back, and money is taken from those that already desperately need it and will need it even more following the price rises. Dropping the green  levy does nothing to stop or challenge the energy companies in charging anything they want. This is a cowardly and short-sighted move by Conservatives to avoid upsetting the Big Six.

Allowing energy companies to become this powerful and collude in raising prices has highlighted a huge problem in privatisation and the selling off of public services. A recent YouGov poll showed that much of the public would like to re-nationalise many of our services including energy and railways:

Support for nationalisation

Meanwhile, thousands of people are continuing to face the decision of whether to heat or eat. This is why Fuel Poverty Action is protesting today, as energy price rises sign the death certificates of the most vulnerable this winter, in the name of profit. To combat the power which the Big Six hold over Britain, government need to make some bold steps to regain parts of its services. Dropping the green levy will not help our future resources or the most vulnerable and it won’t stop the energy companies from continuing to hike up their prices.

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Thousands protest at Tory Party Conference  to “Save the NHS”, but BBC Coverage lacking 

NHS logo

NHS logo

On Sunday 29th September around 50,000-70,000 took to the Manchester streets outside the Tory party conference in what was one of the largest protests outside of London for years.

Unions has called for a day of action in the name of saving our NHS, attacking the coalition government for the health contracts being sold off to private companies, as well as plans to turn hospitals into Trusts which take on a more business-like role.

The plans could see up to hospitals using private investment for up of 50% of its funding, pushing NHS patients further down the waiting lists and essentially creating a two-tier health system.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC – one of the unions which called for the day of action, said at the rally that the current government did not like the NHS because it was the biggest “socialist success” of our time, adding:

“Cameron said the NHS is safe in his hands. Is he telling the truth or is he a liar?” (The crowd responded “Liar!”)

Despite the rally being so large, the BBC coverage has been attacked by many for being too minimal and unrepresentative of the scale of the very peaceful protest. Those who would like to contact the BBC can call them on their Complaints Line 03700100222.

2) Ed Miliband’s price freeze promise is met with threats from energy companies

Ed Miliband announced at the Labour Party Conference last week that he would freeze energy prices for 20 month should he come into power in 2015, following rising prices for 6 years.

Energy companies immediately hit back at Miliband, threatening blackouts and shortages if prices were frozen.

This has thrown the energy prices debate into the limelight, at a time when living standards are being stretched. Some talk has arisen over the re-nationalisation of some energy, which despite being attacked by Tories, can be  no worse than being held to ransom by largely foreign-owned companies which have profited hugely despite the austerity we have experienced, and shared none of the periods of cheaper energy with its customers.

“The profits made by the “big six” – British Gas, EDF, E.On, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – over the last few years (figures courtesy of the BBC): In 2009, £2.15 billion. In 2010, £2.22 billion. 2011 – £3.87 billion (a massive hike of £1,870,000,000 in a single year). And in 2012 – £3.74 billion. That’s £11.98 billion in profits over four years – a huge and unwarranted amount in these times of supposed austerity.”

Mike Sivier, Vox Political

3) Westminster Council defeated in landmark ‘bedroom tax’ case

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

The Conservative-run Westminster Council was defeated by a local tenant in the first ruling of it’s kind, against the controversial spare room subsidy.

Surinder Lall, who is also blind, told the tribunal that he was being charged for a second bedroom, when he had never used the room as such, as it had always stored the equipment he needed to help him lead a normal life.

Lall explained that his case was typical of many disabled people who required room for equipment, and called on the Council to stop using the term ‘bedroom’ to take away benefits from those who need it. Westminster Council say they were going on information supplied by Lall’s landlord.

“In his decision notice, the judge wrote: “The term ‘bedroom’ is nowhere defined [in the relevant regulations]. I apply the ordinary English meaning. The room in question cannot be so defined.”

4) Labour makes their commitments, whilst Tory Party Conference gets under way

The Labour Party Conference set up Ed Miliband’s aims for the party and was met with some strong support for some policies including a promise to scrap the bedroom tax and to sack ATOS. However, campaigners want an end to the Work Capability Assessment also, which has already been ruled unfair on those suffering from mental health problems, yet the Department for Work and Pensions are looking to appeal this. Campaigners want the policies that have ruled disability assessments to be pulled out, as well as the face of those who have provided them so poorly.

The Tory Party Conference is now underway in Manchester, with George Osborne expected to speak today on taking an ever harder line on benefit claimants, and introducing the ‘work for the dole’ policy! (Surprise, surprise! a policy put forward by the Tax Payers Alliance – read why this was a predictable move). More info to follow this week.

 

Image: the Telegraph

Image: the Telegraph

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass