Our Chat with Millionaire CEO of British Gas Phil Bentley

Talking to Phil Bentley. Credit: Stephen Simpson / London News Pictures

There are times during protests where you feel those in power aren’t listening. That they shut themselves away in a cocoon of expensive lunches, executive meetings and fancy cars. Today, in response to Fuel Poverty Action’s occupation of his offices, Phil Bentley (CEO of British Gas) broke that mould and is probably now wishing he hadn’t.

As Fuel Poverty Action activists stood outside in the biting cold leafleting this morning, out strolled the suited figure of a man who looked very much like the millionaire CEO. That’s because it was. Bentley, whose floor had been occupied by a group protesting against the 2,700 preventable deaths last year from Fuel Poverty, looked like he had a point to prove.

As he introduced himself, our man on the door asked: “Do you think its unfair that when you’re paid £600,000 plus even more in bonus that people are dying of cold in their home?
What was to be the media-trained, experienced CEO’s answer? Surely he’d have a pre-prepared script to read from on this, some kind of skilfully meaningless mediaspeak

“Yes of course”, replied to well paid CEO. Continue reading

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British Gas offer “negotiations” to the occupiers in their office – here is their response

At approximately 8.45 am six of us occupied two meeting rooms at British Gas HQ. Since then police have attempted to break in and force us out. British Gas have now asked us to engage in “negotiations” over our demands. Here is our response.

How can ordinary people have a dialogue with energy companies which wield so much power over our daily lives? Will they bear responsibility for people’s lives – such as the 2.7 thousand estimated to die this winter as a direct result of fuel poverty in the UK, and  the millions threatened by climate change? Continue reading

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Facts and Figures

Fuel Poverty:

  • Definition of a household being ‘fuel poor’ is: Those who were spending 10% or more of their net monthly income on energy bills.
  • Figures from July 2011  (which is before price hikes of 14.2% from energy companies in Autumn 2011):
  • Estimated 24% of homes (6.3 million households) in the UK are in fuel poverty.
  • 36% of working class households are in fuel poverty, and 15% of middle class households are fuel poor too
  • Current definition of fuel poverty doesn’t take into account housing costs – if rent or mortgage payments are factored in [1] then figure goes up to 33.4% (9 million households) in fuel poverty in the UK.
  • Under this revised definition of fuel poverty 47% of working class and 22% of middle class households would be considered fuel poor.
  • Household energy bills have rocketed by £472 or 71% in just over 5 years.
  • It is estimated that at least 2700 people die each year directly due to fuel poverty Continue reading
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Heat or Eat Gameshow

How the game works:

Today’s extra special show is broadcasting from inside our headquarters of British Gas – please excuse us for any unseen network disruptions beyond our control. Now please give a warm welcome to today’s contestant – who is here with her family on the show today.

The host, Phil Bentley, CEO of British Gas, will be putting a family through a daily struggle of survival, having to choose whether to heat, or eat.

The family will be put through a series of rounds, including multiple guess questions, role plays and music interludes. Win, and they will receive points, which they will get the choice of spending on heating, or eating.

The game is full of fun and comedy as well as interesting facts about how the big energy companies are screwing us all over.

You can watch the whole game on livestream, that is until our live-set is evicted! Continue reading

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Press release: British Gas offices occupied in protest over fuel poverty profiteering

6 activists have barricaded themselves into meeting rooms on two floors of British Gas offices in Staines, Middlesex, as part of the ‘Winter Warm-Up’ weekend called by the campaign group Fuel Poverty Action. British Gas is being targeted as one of the Big Six energy companies making profits out of rising energy bills. It is planned to stream the occupation live on the internet, with a ‘Heat or Eat’ comedy quiz played by the occupiers, and audience participation over Twitter.

Hannah Edler, 27, a Heat or Eat contestant, said

“Heat or Eat is a choice no-one should have to face. The Big Six energy companies are raking in record profits while our bills rise, and thousands die unable to heat their homes. We’re here to put ourselves in the way of this shameless profiteering.”

Edler added: “Instead of paying billions to Big Six bosses every year, we could have a fairer system where our energy is owned by communities who decide how it is priced and produced. Money could be better spent on giving homes proper insulation, and investing in moving away from the dangerous fossil fuel system which the Big Six have trapped us in. To provide for everyone’s needs and stop wrecking the planet’s climate, we need democratic control of our energy system!” Continue reading

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Watch live at http://livestre.am/1gaxQ (Livestream) or http://www.ustream.tv/channel/10293007 (uStream)

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