Cost of living protests to hit start of Tory conference as bill rise kicks in

Cost of living and climate protesters to unite for national day of action

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 27 September 2022 17:04 BST
Demonstrators take part in a protest march from Victoria station to Parliament Square, in London, on July 23, 2022 to demand action over the cost of living crisis and the climate change crisis.
Demonstrators take part in a protest march from Victoria station to Parliament Square, in London, on July 23, 2022 to demand action over the cost of living crisis and the climate change crisis. (AFP via Getty Images)

Protest groups are to join forces for a "day of action" on the cost of living, with demonstrations set to take place across Britain as delegates gather for the Tory conference.

Organisations including the Don't Pay campaign, Just Stop Oil and Enough is Enough will take to the streets in dozens of towns and cities on 1 October – in what is expected to be the biggest set of cost-of-living demonstrations yet.

The rallies and marches are being timed take place as workers from the RMT, CWU and Aslef unions go on strike over pay and conditions – and also coincide with a major rise in bills going into the winter.

They will also be joined by activists from climate group Extinction Rebellion, while left-wing coalition People’s Assembly is organising a demonstrating outside Conservative conference on 2 October the following day.

The Don't Pay UK campaign says nearly 200,000 people have signed up to take part in its bills strike over soaring energy bills, but the group wants to make its presence felt on the streets while the spotlight if on Liz Truss's party.

The government has pledged to control prices so that the average household will pay no more than £2,500 for their energy bills – but the figure still represents an increase and leading think-tanks have said it will not protect the poorest.

The rise in bills kicks in on 1 October, up from £1,971 currently – and around double the £1,277 rate at the start of this year.

"Millions of us simply won’t be able to keep our heads above water while energy companies make billions in profit," said Susan Robinson, a Don’t Pay activist based in Lancaster.

“Don't Pay groups are taking to the streets in communities across the UK to demand an end the profiteering fuelling this crisis and government action to make sure no on goes cold in their homes this winter."

The groups have built an interactive map to help people find their nearest demonstration.

Conservative party conference will take place in Birmingham from 2 October to 5 October, with delegates expected to travel to the city on 1 October during rail strikes.

Back in Westminster, activists from Just Stop Oil are expected to stage a sit-down protest in Parliament Square. The group is calling for the government to stop licensing new oil and gas projects, to tax billionaires who pollute the environment, to invest in insulating homes and to lower the cost of energy bills and public transport.

But Sadiq Khan on Monday urged the group not to disrupt the London Marathon, which is taking place the same day in the capital.

Other demonstrations are taking place in towns and cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Lancaster, Darlington, and Gillingham.

Bruce Murphy, from Just Stop Oil said: “This Autumn we are fighting back. We will bring together the tactics used through the ages by ordinary people standing up to injustice.

“Strike, don’t pay, occupy. This is going to be the big something we have all been waiting for.”

Alanna Byrne from Extinction Rebellion UK, said the UK was "facing crisis after crisis", adding: "The landscape is ripe for a mass mobilisation of people coming together to create change. Because the climate crisis and the crisis in our society share the same root cause: A selfish few who seek to profit from people’s suffering and the destruction of our world, while the rest of us are forced to pay for crises we didn’t create."

"Make no mistake, the UK Government does not care about us. The mini-budget last week proved as much. The only option left is for a mass mobilisation of people to come together across differences to resist the ongoing injustice.”

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