The government should hand £320 to every household to help struggling families through the winter fuel crisis, the new co-leaders of the Green Party have said.
Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay will use their first conference speech since winning the party’s leadership earlier this month to urge the government to avert a “national emergency” by offering winter fuel helicopter payments to all.
Half a million people were plunged into fuel poverty this month by the £139 energy price cap increase – while a further 1.5 million Brits could struggle to pay their bills if energy costs rise again next year.
The move would cost £9 billion – which the Greens say could be funded through a one-off windfall land value tax on all landlords of privately rented properties.
Speaking at the Greens’ annual conference in Birmingham on Friday, Ramsay is expected to say: “In the face of hikes to energy bills and rising fuel prices and to ease the burden on household budgets we’re calling on government to extend winter fuel payments with a one-off payment of £320 to every household to get us all through this winter.
“It’s a costed proposal to be funded from a one-off one per cent land-value tax on residential landlord properties. This proposal is about keeping households from spiralling into fuel poverty, it’s about keeping people safe. It’s about the state responding to market failure. It’s about human dignity.
“Our proposal is what government should be doing to show leadership. It’s an issue which shows how climate justice and social justice go hand in hand – something they just don’t get. It’s also just a bridge to get us to the tough work of a real, Green New Deal.”
Brits were warned on Thursday to expect 18 more months of rising energy bills amid warnings that the country’s gas crisis could leave just five or six suppliers standing.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power, said the UK’s record energy prices could leave households facing rising bills until the middle of 2022 – with even well-run suppliers at risk of going bust.
Denyer and Ramsay believe their plan to hand struggling households cash would pave the way for the party’s flagship Green New Deal programme, which would invest £100 billion a year for the next decade to help the UK reach net zero by 2030.
The party claims their plan will reduce household heating bills by rolling out comprehensive insulation schemes – and create millions of environmentally-friendly jobs.
‘Tory divide and rule’
Elsewhere in their speech, Denyer and Ramsay will outline the case for a prominent Green Party in British politics, as it looks to surpass the Liberal Democrats as the country’s third-largest party.
Denyer is expected to say: “People have grown tired of choosing the ‘least worst’ option. Of being patronised, ignored and told what to think.
“We are tired of a Tory government playing divide and rule. Tired of out of touch policies which ride roughshod over people. Tired of politics which amount to little more than an old boys club serving the interests of its pals.
“We need better – we demand better. We see none of it from an official opposition that fails the public, ignores the votes of its own members, and can’t take a stand on the biggest issues of the day.
“We have the policy – and the public is with us. We have ambition – and with your support we can fulfil that ambition.”