Hundreds of demonstrations have been organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, with thousands taking to the streets to vent their fury at the Government’s failure to support workers and their families. The sharp rise in energy prices and cuts in wages and pensions, compounded by the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has left households across the UK unsure whether they will be able to make ends meet.
Ramona McCartney, National Organiser of the People’s Assembly, told Express.co.uk: “The reason we’re holding the protests is because of the recent price hikes, especially around energy. After almost 12 years of austerity, it is just got to the point where it is too much.
“People literally cannot afford to pay. This is not a crisis of their own making and it is the poorest that are hit the hardest.
“People deserve better from their lives. They should not be working just to try and make ends meet. They deserve a better life than what is being offered in the UK today.
Thousands are set to turn out in around 30 UK cities including London, Manchester, Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow and Cardiff.
The protests come after the UK energy regulator Ofgem announced a 54 percent increase in energy prices earlier this month, with the energy price cap set to increase by £693 from the start of April.
There are concerns the £9billion announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak to support the UK households falls far short of what is needed as energy bills skyrocket.
Ms McCartney said: “I think that people have just come to a place where they have had enough and they don’t see any response to anything that’s happening. The government are doing absolutely nothing to ease the burden, so people feel really frustrated.
“Many now feel that they have no other choice but to take to the streets to show their opposition. A lot of people don’t feel that they are represented in Parliament.”
Around 22 million households will be hit by the increase in bills, as the cap rises to £1,971 for those on direct debits and £2,017 for those on pre-payment meters.
Many energy suppliers are out of business due to the soaring price of gas, which has also prompted warning of potential food shortages in UK supermarkets.
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The People’s Assembly has organised hundreds of local and regional protests across the UK, with the support of trade unions.
The organisation said that the protest on Saturday is the first in a series of demonstrations expected to take place in the coming months, with people set to gather on March 5 and April 2 to demand action from the Government.
Ms McCartney said Prime Minister Boris Johnson “has not done anything to address the situation” and the Government had failed to offer a solution to households.
Pressure has mounted on the Prime Minister in recent weeks to do more to tackle the crisis, including scrapping the proposed hike in National Insurance set to take effect from April this year.
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The Government’s proposed relief package to offset the rise has also attracted criticism, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branding the policy to give all 28 million UK households a £200 rebate on their energy bills from October a “dodgy loan, not a proper plan.”
Ms McCartney said: “We need to show that there is a large opposition in this country and we need to show [the Government] that the people are not going to accept the horrendous standard of living that’s being offered.
“People working full time jobs still cannot afford to make ends meet at the end of the month. In one of the richest countries in the world this is just appalling.
“There are ways to change and there are ways to improve people’s lives and that’s why people are protesting, because it’s come to a point that’s unacceptable.”