Lucy Chapman: The Disgusting Truth about Fuel Poverty

•People can be too poor to put their heating on and not be classified as living in ‘Fuel Poverty’

•Price hikes which cause more people to struggle with fuel costs do not cause more people to be classified as living in ‘Fuel Poverty’

•Fuel Poverty unjustly affects households with children and is steadily increasing for the over 75s.

So, last month we heard that British Gas are to increase their electricity costs by 12.5% from September, just as the weather gets cooler, nights longer and the nation reaches out to put ‘just one bar’ on their electric fire. Thanks, British Gas! Couldn’t have left it till spring to start increasing your £5million profit could you?

Looking at Fuel Poverty in Britain, I am appalled but not surprised to read that fuel poverty affects more single parents with dependent children than any other group. That’s right, we probably all knew it, but its official; it is children who are living with the heating off, cold showers and less hot meals more often than anyone else.

You may have opinions about the need for people to work their way out of poverty, perhaps you think if they didn’t try hard at school or graft in the work place then they should live with the consequences. But there isn’t a child on this earth that has ‘earnt’ their poverty.

So, to the real filth of fuel poverty

Government documentation explains how Fuel Poverty is calculated:

Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator. Under the LIHC indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if:

• they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level).

• were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

This new definition of the term ‘fuel poor’ was reported by The Independent in December 2013 to have instantly lifted 800,000 people out of fuel poverty overnight! Note, they are no better off or more able to pay their gas bill, but a definition change has helped solve the problem to the tune of thousands.

What does this mean?

If a household is extremely poor (below the poverty line) they won’t be counted as ‘fuel poor’ unless their gas and electricity consumption is above average. So when you read a headline stating that the government are reducing the fuel poverty gap, don’t be fooled; there are thousands of men, women and children living in poverty, unable to do a wash-load with the confidence that their pre-pay meter won’t run out mid cycle who aren’t being counted in the stats, simply because their gas and electricity bill is considered ‘average’ or below average in relation to all UK households of all incomes. And let’s face it, if you were totally broke, you would do your absolute best to keep your gas and electricity bills as low as possible wouldn’t you?

How will British Gas’ 12.5% rise in electricity costs affect the numbers of people suffering from ‘fuel poverty’?

Not at all! Well that’s great. Increase your prices all you like if that’s the case, ol’ BG! £5million a year profit does sound a bit on the low side and somebody somewhere probably needs a new yacht…

“The fuel poverty indicator is a relative measure, as it compares households to national income thresholds and national median energy costs. A change in income will only have an impact on fuel poor households if they see relatively larger income changes (increase or decrease) than the overall population; the same is true for household energy costs.”

(Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, 2017. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Because you have to have above average fuel consumption to be counted in the ‘fuel poor’ data, an increase to prices of any magnitude, will not affect the government statistics because they will have simply created a new ‘average’.
So, in conclusion: if you’re so poor that you can’t cook your kids a hot meal or dry their clothes affectively in winter but you keep your gas and electricity consumption down below the UK average, you’re not in fuel poverty, and if fuel prices go up resulting in more people finding they’re unable to afford a warm shower every day, there are actually no more ‘fuel poor’ people in Britain.
In June the Conservatives announced their plans to cut the fuel allowance to all but the poorest pensioners. The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnel published analysis suggesting the lives of 4,000 pensioners could be at risk as a result…

Pay Raises in Britain

1% (not guaranteed) – Teachers

1% – Nurses

1.5% – Soldiers

2% – Firefighters

7.3% – Multi-million pound Energy Company

Thanks for your fuel price cap promise, Theresa May. People voted to keep ordinary people’s lives just this side of manageable yet children are being tipped over the edge on your watch and you’ll not even count them in your numbers. #proudtobebritish

There is a whole host of other issues here too; far too many to do justice to within my 800 words: The highest proportion of ‘fuel poor’ households are privately rented; the highest proportion of people forced to use exploitative pre-payment meters are also in privately rented homes; pre-payment meters cost the customer up to £300 per year more than other customers.

Fuel poverty has been rising for people over 75 since 2013.

Fuel poverty is more prevalent in the homes of people of ethnic minority

Most recent data shows over 1.03 million households with one or more children are ‘fuel poor’

…To cover the whole shameful topic, I’d need another 10,000 words.

Helen Hill: Conference Survival Guide

That time of year is upon us again – Labour Party Conference season, so whether you are attending national or regional conference, going for the first time or tenth and being a delegate or a visitor, here are my top tips for making the most of your experience!

Conferences are arranged by an elected body, The CAC or Conference Arrangements Committee and their job is to book a venue, speakers and decide on the running order of the conference. They also deal with motions and resolutions that are submitted by Labour Party constituencies and Trade Unions and organise the elections that are due to take place at conference in terms of who is standing and announcing the results of said elections.

I am currently nearing the end of my second term on the North West CAC and standing again for the third time this year at regional conference so I am probably quite well informed to talk you through what to expect and how to get the most out of conference.

Last year I attended the Labour Party national conference at the lead delegate for my CLP and despite being on the CAC North West and a seasoned regional conference goer, I found myself like a rabbit in the headlights at national conference, just the sheer size of the event was overwhelming and despite being given a very well produced and detailed guide on the first day, I still felt out of my depth and unsure of where to go, when and who to ask for help, hence me putting this little article together this year to help others.

Going it alone: How to mingle!

I think probably the most daunting part of attending conference for a lot of people is the fact that often we have to “go it alone”, especially if we are attending delegates. 

My first tip would be to utilise your social media! If you are a member of any Labour or left wing forums, pop a post on there asking if anyone else is going to the conference and arrange to meet up! They will be as glad of the company as you are and even just having someone to meet for a quick cuppa first thing in the morning on day 1 will really settle your nerves.
If this is not possible then not to worry, when you arrive at conference, register yourself and then head inside and to the nearest cafe area, there will be so many other people there alone, desperate for someone to talk to that it should not take you long to get chatting!
Another big mistake I made on day 1 was going off the conference site for lunch, at the time I just thought I would rather get out of the way than sit awkwardly alone, but I ended up sat awkwardly alone in M&S cafe in the city centre anyway and on the second day when I stayed on site I realised that actually, most people there are awkwardly alone and the people they are talking to are strangers they have just met!

If you just make the effort to speak to people you will hit it off with them, after all, we are all Labour so straight away you have something in common and a really good ice breaker and way into a conversation is to simply ask people if they are enjoying it and which CLP they are from. I ended up having lunch with a lovely lady last year who turned out to be a Labour MP, although I had no idea when I approached her. She was full of wonderful stories and information and really welcoming and friendly.

Fringe Events:

Although you are there to attend to official conference, it is important to also get out to some of the fringe events – some of them might even be in the same complex and others will be very nearby. The conference guide will list them and they are always free to enter, occasionally you will need to book a ticket but for those events you will usually see them prior on social media and simply download a ticket on an app like eventbright. 

The Fringe events usually have guest speakers like Owen Jones (Guardian columnist) and special guests who are really interesting to listen to, Mr Corbyn will usually turn up to some of the Momentum fringe events like the World Transformed and I actually met one of his sons there last year. 

The Fringe for me is as important as the conference itself and actually, sometimes more enjoyable! You are doing nothing wrong by attending, in fact it is encouraged and better still, there is usually really affordable food and drink, whereas it can be quite expensive within the actual conference venues.


Conference is full of stalls and exhibitors ranging from charities to trade unions and there are even bars and book shops! It is a good idea to spend your spare time going around the stalls and talking to the people on them, signing petitions and learning more but be careful not to sign up to support too many charities! Us lefties always find it hard to say no when someone asks us for our bank details and to set up a direct debit to donate a couple of quid a month but by the time you had made it around the exhibition hall you would have none of your salary left and I am not joking! Pick one or two you want to support financially and then just support the others by signing their petitions, if you explain you already donate to other charities they will understand your position and just be glad of any support you can give to them, even if it is just wearing one of their badges or lanyards to raise awareness of their cause!

It is not all give though – many stalls in the exhibition hall have FREEBIES! We all love a good freebie! Notebooks, pens, bags, mobile phone accessories, gadgets, food, drink & lanyards…. you will be overloaded by the time you leave!

Stewards / Guides / Accessibility:

There are always plenty of stewards at conference who have volunteered from constituencies and unions so if you are lost or confused – ASK! Do not feel silly, they are there for that purpose! If you have a disability or additional needs they will also be able to advise on accessibility and guide you to the easiest points of access to gt to where you want to go!


Sadly, the times we live in mean that any big gathering of people is a target for terrorism and for that reason you are inevitably going to be searched entering conference site – there will be an area at the entrance where bags get searched so allow time for these searches when planning your timing to enter the conference and keep in mind that if you are in and out of the site because you are attending fringe events at other venues, you may be searched several times in one day, but it is for your safety so be patient if you get stuck in a queue.

Delegates Report:

If you have been sent to conference as a delegate for your CLP you will be expected to provide a delegates report afterwards, you could either stand up at the next CLP meeting and tell your comrades verbally about your conference experience, or, if like me you are far better communicating in written form – you could write a little report just outlining what you did, what you enjoyed and what key points came out of the conference. Also do not forget to thank your comrades for sending you, especially if they supported you financially by paying for your pass and expenses!

Have fun, enjoy and if any of you need company and a friendly face at North West regional conference let me know in the comments below because I will be there and I know just the place for a nice cup of tea! 

Helen Hill. 

Helen Hill is the Editor at:
The Socialite UK

The Truth Behind Closed Doors of a Psychiatric Hospital: By The Masked Avenger Anonymous

Author Anonymous

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of a psychiatric hospital, where the purpose is to keep patients at a vulnerable time safe from harm and well cared for with medications, occupational therapy? I am about to give my insight of the hospital from my teenage years and from various stays including the most recent last year.

Getting admitted

Firstly to actually even get admitted you are pretty much in for a fight with the mental health services, I have before begged for admission due to being suicidal in 2015 to the Kent crisis home treatment team only to be told ‘you do not meet the criteria’.

I know on a personal level just how difficult it is to get them to listen. I was age 16 when first admitted a long long time ago now. The hospital was actually run so much better back then even though it was still absolutely poor in comparison to the care you would expect to receive, but back then you were allowed to smoke in the smokers lounge ,a right that prisoners in the UK still have in some prisons. Sometimes it is deemed that you need to be sectioned as I was 3 times last year.

I felt there was no dignity at all.  I was left sleeping in a corridor on a hard rubber sofa with no pillow or blanket and woken up at 7 am to say they had a bed for me in brighton priory… the experience of being in the priory a private hospital was a different world to the NHS experience.

The Staff

I am not saying all the staff are as useless as a chocolate teapot you get one or two that take the time out of their day to sit and talk with you about how you are doing but this is very very rare.

When becoming an inpatient at Littlebrook Hospital now you are made to have your bags searched and items listed this is as much for admin purposes as it is to check whether you have anything in your bags that can harm you i.e razors , tweezers , tablets. However on all admissions last year I was able to ‘smuggle in’ items on the banned list by putting them various zip up compartments which were not checked. Very ‘thorough and safe’ indeed…


If they called breakfast and you were not up you simply missed out altogether meaning that you went until lunch time at 12.30 before eating, which when you are on medications is not good at all and can cause adverse effects.


If you requested medication to help calm you you could wait hours or sometimes they would forget altogether. I was psychotic last year and convinced I was being spied on I refused food nor was given supplement drinks for a few weeks on my first admission. I would stay in my room at meal times and nobody would try and encourage me that it was safe to eat.

Putting it bluntly the nurses simply do not care. I would punch the walls of my room a lot they would see me doing so but would leave me to it even to the point my hand was swollen so much I was taken to A&E.


The hospital is supposed to be a place of safety and rehabilitation but this is definitely not the case here.

At most I will call it a holding cell until the psychiatrist deems you fit for discharge.


The food

The food at the hospital is vile and nasty and served without care. Breakfast is fine as it is cereal and you cant go wrong with that , well unless you don’t wake up for it and lets face it at 7am when you have been given night time medications at 10pm…depending on it the nurse in charge actually starts it on time or if there is a delay from someone on the ward having an episode who is really going to be awake for it.


When I was in as a teenager they actually made you get up and go to breakfast lunch and dinner and offer supper too but the care seems to have drastically fallen in 15 years.


The lunch and dinner are to be avoided at all costs. This is an actual dinner from 2016.

Blog photo fod I looked for the budget info which was unavailable but it it is widely known that more is spent on prisoners food than a person in hospital. It was like a game of guess the meal. When you are trying to recover mentally you do not want to eat anyway so the food could go a long way in aiding recovery of the patients. You are also watched like a hawk with knives even though they are as blunt as anything.

They count all cutlery (yes even the spoons ) in and out of the trolley.

Occupational therapy

What therapy?

You would go days and days with nobody being there and they deemed that having newspapers, tea and biscuits on the ward as occupational therapy.


Back when I was 16 you actually had two sessions Monday to Friday that you were encouraged to attend. Now the staff are more then happy for you to lay in bed all day and leave them to sit in the office eating whatever luxury items they had brought in with them and drink endless cups of tea and coffee.


Pretty much the only staff on the ward where those who were on eye sight for the patients needing one to one care, this is supposed mean you are watched 24/7 but even then I know of patients who managed to cut themselves or ligature themselves whilst on one to one watch.


Ways out for those desperate to escape


There are a few ways out of the hospital without discharge some I witnessed and some I did myself while on section last year.


For some they literally break free kicking the fire escape doors , for others they may injure themselves needing treatment in hospital (often with items brought in; some ladies I know of swallowed smuggled in razor blades and cut themselves. I on the other hand hit my hand repeatedly but never ran from hospital as my treatment was actually pretty quick).


For others they bide their time and wait for escorted leave and just run off only coming back if found by the police. No matter what where there is a will there is a way out. The staff don’t care either way they just care about their wages and cups of tea.



They will discharge you when they see fit and no matter what you say will change this. They have their own set agenda when it comes to discharge and pretty much always you do not get the follow up ‘care’ that they state in your discharge plan.

Its like ‘lets see who is the least at risk so we can ship them out and make way for the next vulnerable poor soul. ‘

To sum this up, Littlebrook Hospital is a disgrace to vulnerable and at risk people.

The lack of care, food and medications is astronomical and the place is worse then a prison.

You have to wait days for a review , you cannot smoke in there causing a lot of people to kick off and react as the staff are now not even supposed to give you supervised leave so you can smoke. I know smoking is no ideal but for a huge amount of mentally unwell people it calms them.

 I have been hospital free for a year and I can only hope that my mental health does not decline so much again that I have to be admitted

This was written for you by a Masked Avenger. A Masked Avenger could be any one of our regular writers, a group of writers or a guest writer. Written to bring you uninhibited truths that need to be told.

If you would like to submit an article to the Masked Avenger please email us at:

Theresa May: Childcare Thief

In what world is it ok to forcibly sell somebody else’s product and then refuse to give the original owner what it cost for that product? I’m going to use an analogy most parents like me will appreciate: wine!

Imagine the scenario: I walk into the corner shop with my friend after promising to buy her a bottle of wine, I pick up a nice hearty red costing £6.30, take it to the counter and tell the shop worker that I’m only paying £5 for the wine. The store owner comes along to tell me that they can’t sell the wine at this price because they couldn’t continue to run an effective business, meet the cost of wages, overheads etc if they were to do so. I leave the £5 on the counter, take the wine, give it to my friend as the kind gift I originally offered.

Would you expect either the friend or shop owner to be happy with this outcome? No!

Sure, your friend now has a bottle of wine which they’ve not had to pay for but they feel guilty, in some way responsible for the injustice which has been committed against the shop owner. They might want to pay the difference but be unable to. They might want to give the wine back and go without.

While my friend is making her decision, the police have also been called as what I have done is clearly theft. There’s no ambiguity here; I just stole from the corner shop.

But what if it wasn’t wine? What if it was childcare which was promised as a gift? What if you can’t offer to pay the difference or give the ‘gift’ back to the business owner because without it you can’t afford to work or cover your own bills and outgoings? What then?

This is exactly what is happening all over the country. How is it ok?

A product (childcare), has been forcibly taken and handed out to thousands of families across the country as a nice gift, but the providers are not being given the going rate for their service leaving them on average 20% short.

This isn’t a gift, it’s theft!

Like the shop owner, the nurseries should call the police, right? Unfortunately, the perpetrators in this instance, the thieves, the villain, is the government of this country and there is nothing the victims of this theft can do.

The Telegraph has today reported: “One in five providers surveyed by the National Day Nurseries Association, a childcare charity, are not offering the free 30 hours because they say they cannot afford it. And more than half of those that are participating in the scheme are having to increase parents’ costs.”

The Pre-school Learning Alliance conducted a survey of childcare providers in March 2017 which showed similar results: “Less than half of providers [are] currently planning to roll out the offer, and a quarter saying that it is “likely” they will close”.

The situation is set to get worse. The government’s plan to freeze early years funding until 2019-20 will leave us with an even bigger problem on our hands. Childcare providers will feel the squeeze even more as running costs continue to rise with inflation whilst funding does not.

If everyone is happy with the nation’s children being looked after by the least experienced and qualified staff to keep down staffing costs. Happy with younger, even less experienced staff, to avoid paying the so-called ‘living wage’. Happy with buildings and equipment being updated and maintained less regularly. Happy for lower cost materials, foods, nappies to be used for our children during their most important years developmentally, then we have no problem here. I expect for most people, they wouldn’t be happy for any of these things to become commonplace.

Dear friend, don’t offer me a bottle of wine (especially in order to buy my friendship) if you can’t afford to buy a bottle of wine. Or at least humbly admit that you’re unable to follow through on your kind offer, but please don’t steal the wine.

Dear Conservative Government, don’t offer to provide me with 30 hours free childcare (especially to compete with Ed Milliband’s Labour promise and win my vote) if you can’t afford to pay for 30 hours of childcare at the going rate. Or at least humbly admit that you’re unable to follow through on your kind offer, but please don’t steal the childcare.

The Tories Crusade For Morals Does Not Apply To Themselves By Kelly Grehan

Jacob Rees- Mogg a ‘deadbeat dad’ according to some, so why do the media portray him as a moral crusader?

Hearing Jacob Rees-Mogg this week brought back memories of my youth in the 1990s when Tory MPs often saw fit to take up moralising.  There was John Redwood‘s condemnation of “young women [who] have babies with no apparent intention of even trying marriage or a stable relationship with the father of the child,” Peter Lilley‘s description of single mothers as “benefit-driven” and “undeserving” and of course then Prime Minister John Major’s ill fated ‘Back To Basics’ campaign in which he declared the Conservative Party as the Party of morality.

Of course, in the years that followed the Major government became synonymous with scandal as Tory MPs, too numerous to mention were outed for affairs and Major himself was revealed to have had a four year affair with Edwina Currie.

So, keeping with Tory tradition,  Rees-Mogg, who once wrote an article in The Telegraph in defence of zero-hours contracts, is against foreign aid and who wishes to see the Human Rights Act abolished, this week gave his thoughts on abortion, a right won by women in this country in 1968, saying:

“The Catholic Church’s teachings are authoritative. There is a moral absolute on abortion — that it is wrong. To take a life after a rape is not the answer. Life begins at the point of conception.  One can only feel compassion for a woman in these situations — which, of course are rare — but it’s hard to see how taking a child’s life makes them better.’

He, having voted against equal marriage, voiced his continued opposition to it.

Maybe he has not noticed that the sky has not fallen in since the fight for LGBTQ rights was won.

Asked whether he would attend a wedding ceremony where both participants were of the same sex he replied “It’s not for me to enforce my morals on others.”

I find this very odd, as if marrying the person you love and want to spend your life with has some sort of moral or immoral connotation.

You know what I see as being morally indefensible? 

Voting for policies that encourage poverty, poor health and social division!!

Rees-Mogg’s voting record shows he has no interest in policies supporting better lives for children or families. For example he has

  • consistently voted against against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • voted for the bedroom tax, against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed
  • voted against a law to make private vehicles smoke-free if a child is present
  • voted against calling on the Government to ensure women and protected groups are not disproportionately impacted by tax and benefit changes and against publication of a gender equality strategy to improve the position of women,
  • voted for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education

-I could go on.

Another thing I find immoral is people bringing children into this world and being dis-interested in bringing them up!

Rees-Mogg this week admitted that he is not a “modern man” and had never changed a nappy, despite being a father of 6 children!!

In response, former Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman, referred to him as a ‘deadbeat dad.’

Some may see Mogg’s children who attend the same £14,000 a year school Prince Charles attended as very privileged.  The nanny they have is the same one who raised Rees-Mogg before he went to Eton.

Isn’t it odd that those of lower status who admit to not taking care of their own children, (and I do not mean when they are at work) are held up on various ‘poverty porn’ TV shows for ridicule, but wealthy people who absolve themselves of providing care  for their own children are seen as ‘eccentric?’

I can just imagine the view some of the tory MPs would take of a mother of 6, maybe working a low paid job, maybe with rent arrears who had six children and said she could not change their nappies!

Strangely different rules seem to apply to the rich.