How many millionaires do you know on prepayment meters?

In the face of rising prices, on 3rd February, we noted that Rishi Sunak’s Energy Bill Plan is nothing more than an attempt to win back a little of the lost popularity for the either the Johnson government or even for Sunak himself, in any forthcoming leadership contest. Millionaire Sunak claims his plan is “right and fair.” Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he! In this article, we’ll explain how it’s all just another con, where the poorest end up paying the most and the rich go on to make even more profit on the backs of the struggles and sacrifices of the poorest.

Right and fair? Who for?

From April, there’ll be a devastating 54% increase in energy bills. This means that for someone who’s currently paying the average amount by direct debit (£1,277 a year), from 1st April, they’ll be paying £1,971 a year. In other words, that’s an increase of £693. This gets even worse if you’re on a pre-payment meter. Currently the average amount on prepayment meters is £1,309 a year. This goes up in April to £2,017 a year; an increase of £708. As prepayment meters are mostly used by the least well off sections of society, it’s highly unlikely that any millionaires or government politicians (Rishi Sunak fits both categories) use this method to pay their energy bills.

But if that’s not bad enough, this only takes us up to October 2022, when the price cap is set to rise by a further 20%, meaning that the average annual energy bill will rise to £2,365 a year, even more if on prepaid! 

Sunak’s Energy Bill Plan

So, on to Rishi Sunak’s Energy Bill Plan. First, there’s the £200 that every bill payer gets taken off their bills this year. But remember, this is absolutely not a government “gift”. The £200 is just deferred and we have to pay it back at £40 a year over the next five years. Now apart from putting everyone into debt (whether they like it or not), with bills getting ever higher year-by-year, with the least well off struggling even more to pay their bills, then the government adding £40 each year to future bills is going to make life even harder for the poorest people.

For young people still living at home, those with shared bills because they’re living in homes of multiple occupation and students in halls of residence, they get a particularly raw deal. This is because, now, they’ll either get no £200 (if at home with parents or in a hall of residence) or they’ll get only a portion of the £200 where the bill is shared by multiple people. But when they later move on to other properties and have to pay their own bills, they’ll still be hit with the government clawing back it’s £40 a year!

Council Tax rebate and Warm Homes Discount

As we said in our 3rd February article, the £150 Council Tax rebate for those in bands A-D is a drop in the ocean compared to the hefty increases in energy and food bills. And it’s also worth noting that Council Tax bills are set to rise by up to 3% in April.

The government is providing local councils with £150 million to make more people eligible for the Warm Homes Discount (which pensioners and those on the lowest incomes can get). Now, aside from £150 million being a negligible amount when considering the whole of poverty Britain, it’s worth remembering that the Warm Homes Discount is discretionary, in other words, you have to prove yourself worthy enough to get it. As an ACG member who works in social care says:

“It tends to be based on a first come, first served basis. So, to give an example, of the 20 disabled people we completed Warm Homes Discount applications for, only four got it! So, increasing the number of households means nothing at all and is unlikely to increase the number of pay outs by many.”

Helping the rich profit while the poor pays more

It comes as little surprise that the millionaire minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that there’ll be no windfall tax on energy companies, even though their profits are increasing at our expense. The oil companies (the price of oil influences the rise in energy prices), which already receive more money from the government than they pay in taxes, are also reaping the benefits of the crisis by making record profits and paying out massive dividends to shareholders. Meanwhile it’s the working class that has to pay for this, with the poorest members of our class paying disproportionately more. So when Sunak says his measures are right and fair, he means it’s right and fair for big business and the parasitic capitalist class.

To counter this, we need to start organising price rise resistance campaigns now in every locality, organising in similar ways to the mutual aid groups at the start of the pandemic. This is because, when people start getting their gas and electricity cut off, we’ll need to have local solidarity and mutual aid networks in place to help resist any disconnections.

Let’s get to it!

Make the energy and oil companies pay! No disconnections!