One hundred leading figures are today urging the Government to tackle the predatory behaviour of big energy companies by introducing a new levy on their profits.
The campaign – End The Big Six Energy Fix – is being co-ordinated by pressure group Compass and has already attracted cross-party support from politicians as well as economists, civil society leaders, charities, religious leaders, celebrities and campaigners.
They set out their three demands in an open letter to i's sister paper The Independent, signed by a range of figures – including the Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, the former Home Secretary David Blunkett and the Tory parliamentary private secretary Mark Lancaster.
The main aim is to introduce a windfall tax on energy companies' profits and to use the money raised to make homes energy-efficient, which would also reduce fuel poverty.
The funds raised should be ring-fenced to help people with their energy costs, particularly those living in fuel poverty. The campaign is launched ahead of the profit announcements of the big energy companies later this month. In the first six months of 2011 alone the Big Six energy companies posted profits of around £3.5bn.
Campaign supporters highlight that more than 5.5 million households are suffering under fuel poverty, many being forced to choose between heating or eating. Meanwhile the Big Six energy suppliers increased their profit margins by 733 per cent in just three months last year.
Research by Age UK has also found that two million elderly people are so cold that they go to bed when they're not tired to keep energy bills down.
Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, said: "It is completely outrageous that the Big Six are able to rake in eye-watering profits as people up and down the country are forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.
"It is the Government's responsibility to hold them to account for failing to provide anything close to a fair deal for consumers."