A pensioner whose home is too cold for her family and friends to visit has launched a campaign for every household to receive a regular amount of energy free-of-charge.
Diane Skidmore, 72, lives in a poorly-insulated council house in Brixton, south London, which she said is so cold her seven grandchildren do not visit and her neighbours “shiver and shake” when they come over.
She avoids switching the heating on because of the cost, after prices hit record highs as a result of the energy price cap increasing by more than half this month.
This spike in energy costs came as National Insurance, inflation and council tax rates also rose – contributing to the biggest fall in living standards in 70 years.
Every household in Britain should be given a free amount of energy to cover basic living needs such as heating, cooking, and lighting, Ms Skidmore suggested – adding that her proposal could be funded by a windfall tax.
She told Metro that her idea for free energy is similar to proposals for Universal Basic Income (UBI), a scheme piloted in some countries that sees governments pay every citizen a regular amount of money – regardless of their income level – to improve their quality of life.
Ms Skidmore, who has campaigned against fuel poverty for more than a decade, had set up the popular petition on behalf of campaign group Fuel Poverty Action.
The petition has received more than 350,000 signatures. It’s expected that it will be considered for debate in Parliament as it had exceeded the 100,000 signatures needed.
Ms Skidmore has said that she believes so many people are supporting the campaign “because it’s tuning into what they want”.
She told Metro.co.uk: “The Downing Street party scandal is distracting people from the real issue that’s going on, and the real issue going on is the absolute inequality between the rich and the poor.
“Every single day people are struggling, starving and freezing... yet others have made billions during the pandemic.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should be coming up with ideas to help, but they have none. They are so out of touch.
“The petition puts some sensible suggestions forward as to how to make a difference.”
In response to the energy price crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said customers will get a £200 rebate from the government as a loan.
Ms Skidmore, a former healthcare worker, said: “People don’t want loans, it just means you’re getting into debt. How are we supposed to pay that back? It’s not actually helping anybody.”
The Change.org petition can be found here.