Energy bills campaigners send message to leadership debates

Campaigners will take to the streets of Darlington ahead of the next Conservative Leadership Debate to demand urgent government action on the energy bills crisis.

New figures from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition show that around 36,000 people in over 9,000 homes will be in fuel poverty from 1 October in Darlington alone.

Now campaigners have formed a new group, Warm This Winter, to ask the leadership candidates to take the issue seriously.

They will be asking attendees at the event in Hippodrome to raise the energy bills crisis with Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak and ask them to commit to doing whatever it takes to avoid a nightmare winter for millions of people.

Local organiser, Kendra Ullyart, who is also coordinator of Darlington Friends of the Earth, said:

We all deserve to be warm in our own homes but right now soaring energy prices mean that millions of people are struggling to pay their bills, never mind this winter when costs will climb even higher.

The worrying part is that gas prices are predicted to stay high until at least 2030.In 2020, there were already thousands of households in Darlington living in fuel poverty, but rocketing energy costs mean there are now many more who need urgent, long-term solutions.

That’s why Darlington Friends of the Earth is adding its voice to the Warm This Winter campaign, to demand emergency financial support for those who will need it most this winter, as well as funding for a massive insulation scheme to cut the nation’s bills. Moving the country away from expensive gas and onto cheaper, renewable energy will also help to protect us all from future price shocks.

The public has grasped the scale and seriousness of the energy crisis, and deserves a leader who will act in our best interests. Tonight we hope Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will set out credible plans to ensure everyone stays warm this winter, and for years to come.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, added:

Across the North East hundreds of thousands of people will find themselves in fuel poverty this winter, with millions more having to make difficult decisions about household finances this winter.

We congratulate the campaigners for taking action in Darlington. The Warm this Winter campaign simply must succeed in ensuring the government helps those people who need it today and fixes the UK’s broken energy system for good.

Warm This Winter is a new campaign to ensure that families are helped this winter and to put the country in the best possible position to avoid future shocks and save money in the long-term.

It is calling on the government to provide more direct financial support to vulnerable households now, a national programme of energy efficiency for households to cut waste, a rollout of cheaper onshore renewables, and an end to the development of new oil and gas fields so that we are not locked into volatile fossil fuels for longer than is necessary.

Further action is planned for hustings in Birmingham, Norwich and London. To get involved, email

Petition against minimum energy top-ups launched

The MP for one of the areas most hit by fuel poverty has launched a campaign against British Gas’ decision to increase the minimum top-up amount for customers on pay-as-you-go tariffs from £1 to £5.

The move has been criticised by anti-poverty campaigners and charities that claim it will impact parents and pensioners on low incomes who will be forced to make a choice between food and fuel.

More than 16% of households experience fuel poverty in Birmingham – well above the national average. Nationally, at least 3.66 million households are in fuel poverty.

Those who use top-up meters are often in debt and have insecure incomes, and rely on small top-ups to ration their heating to see themselves through to payday. Research shows that those on pre-pay meters pay hundreds of pounds more in tariffs on average than direct debit customers.

The MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill, has written to the CEO of British Gas, Sarwjit Sambhi, to urge him to take his ‘social responsibilities seriously and reverse the decision immediately’.

Ms Gill also set up an online petition to put pressure on British Gas, the country’s biggest energy supplier.

Ms Gill says:

This decision will disproportionately affect those who are already struggling to get by. To implement it in the middle of winter, and what is the most financially challenging time of the year for many people, is the height of social irresponsibility.

A company which last reported profits of £466 million should not be increasing the burden on its most hard-up customers. We ask that British Gas does the responsible thing and reverses this decision.

The public can sign the petition at: