UK rent strikes and bill boycotts are great in principle – but I’d be left without power and with an eviction notice | james

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Since my last entry in this series, a lot has happened, especially at Westminster. Finally, we say goodbye to the pathological liar who has occupied Downing Street for two years.

However, I am under no illusions that whichever Tory takes Johnson’s place will not be cut from the same cloth. It worries me whether someone like Rishi Sunak, who enjoys phenomenal wealth and is married into a family of billionaires, could possibly have the know-how to represent the less fortunate in our society. This was confirmed by his reluctance to commit to increasing state benefits by nearly the rise in inflation.

Luckily for me, things are going pretty well at work – at a charity that helped me when I was unable to work and struggling. Yet the nature of my mental illness means that I would be forced to survive on benefits if I deteriorated even slightly. Meager benefits that are not even enough to cover my growing expenses. I can only hope that doesn’t happen.

The price of my groceries has skyrocketed up to 30% in the last month. Even though I work full time, high food prices sometimes force me to turn to the food bank to feed myself and my children. I see a constant stream of new faces at the food bank, and I fear that as summer gives way to winter – when people have to choose between heating or eating – even more desperate people will come through its doors. doors.

At the moment, the heat is the problem. When we saw temperatures hit record highs in July, scientists said the UK was no longer ‘a cold country’. Naturally, it is poor people like me who will suffer the most from extreme temperatures. I rent privately, where private landlords have almost carte blanche to mistreat tenants with impunity. Harassing them for better insulation or upgraded air conditioning could backfire in the form of an eviction letter. And I can’t invest in my property because it’s not really my property.

You would think that if the government was serious about tackling the climate crisis and cutting emissions, it would mandate vital energy-saving measures such as insulation and devote military efficiency to building as many new zero-energy social housing as possible. Big luck. I feel like the whole purpose of conservatives is to keep people like me as poor as possible.

I don’t want much. I don’t have extravagant tastes. When I finally had a small amount of money from my first paycheck, I spent it on mundane things like disposable brush heads for my electric toothbrush, which eased worries that I wouldn’t have the bare necessities. I don’t aspire to wealth, but I would like to have security of tenure somewhere.

The cruelty of these conservatives, coupled with no decent alternative on the horizon, has convinced some that direct action is the only way to prevent more people from falling into poverty. Some activists have called for rent strikes and energy bill boycotts. Although I understand and, to some extent, support such radical action in theory, I could not dream of participating in it in practice. I’m on a prepaid energy meter, so boycotting my bills will only cut me off. Also, while I would love to take a break from paying rent, it would earn me an eviction notice under Section 21, even though the government has often promised to abolish them.

No, people like me will just have to keep smiling and putting up with it, but winter is coming and a 40% rise in energy costs will come with the cold. I don’t know how long we can continue to tolerate this.

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