OVER one-in-eight UK households live in fear that they can’t make any further cuts to spending to pay the massive increase in energy bills that will hit them in the autumn.
Energy bills are set to increase to nearly £4,000 next January, which represents an increase of three times the amount households were paying in January this year.
Households face the very real prospect of bills hitting £500 in the first month of 2023.
Data collated by the Centre for Business and Economic Research revealed last week that a fifth of all UK households have an average gap of £60 a week between what they earn and what they need just to pay for essentials such as energy bills, rent and food.
Even before the latest massive surge in energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis, millions of workers have been forced into debt just to pay for essentials.
In May, the Bank of England reported that credit card borrowing is rising at the fastest rate in 127 years with UK consumers putting over £3 billion on their cards in the first three months of 2022 alone.
The majority of this debt was just to cover household bills and put food on the table, with people borrowing an additional £1.8 billion last month.
While tens of millions of workers and their families have been forced into debt, the soaring energy bills along with surging prices for food mean that every option for saving money by cutting back has been exhausted.
While workers face, quite literally, starving, going without food to feed their children, and forever under the threat of eviction for rent non-payment, the gas and oil companies are recording record profits.
British Gas owner Centrica has seen its operating profits increase to £1.34 billion, allowing it to proudly announce that it would be reinstating dividends to shareholders.
The giant oil company Shell also reported record profits of $11.5 billion – a 100% increase in its earnings for a single year.
Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation think tank, wrote on Twitter: ‘Energy company Centrica made an additional £1billion profit in the last 6 months, whilst millions of people can’t afford to heat their homes.’
She added: ‘Our economic system is currently enabling this, but it doesn’t have to be this way.’
This is the issue that is dominating the thinking of the entire working class today.
The mass strike wave demanding pay increases that protect them from the inflationary spiral engulfing the country, represents the growing insurrectionary mood amongst workers and young people who are not prepared to see their lives destroyed under a bankrupt capitalist system that provides billions of profit for the bosses and shareholders and poverty for the working class.
This has seen the rise of an on-line campaign urging millions to join a ‘mass non-payment strike’ when the energy prices are hiked up on 1st October.
The anonymous group behind this Don’t Pay campaign, which it says has seen an upswell of support, are calling for those on direct debit to stop payments saying: ‘We want to bring them (the energy companies) to the table and force them to end this crisis.’
The fact is that the majority of low-paid workers are on pre-payment meters which are simply cut off if they don’t top up their cards, and those on direct debit will be swiftly moved onto pre-payment schemes or brought before the courts for non-payment and have their gas cut off remotely.
The idea that a non-payment campaign will force the companies or the Tories ‘round the table’ to end the crisis is just wishful thinking that avoids the central issue.
The only demand that can meet this crisis is the demand for the complete nationalisation of the entire gas and oil industries without any compensation, placing them under the management of the working class.
The way forward is for the working class to demand that the TUC call a general strike to kick out this collapsing Tory government and bring in a workers’ government that will expropriate the capitalist class and build a socialist planned economy.
Putting an end to capitalism through socialist revolution is the only way forward today.