Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Fuel poverty

Right, first off, I'm listening to Leonard Cohen's Songs From A Room. Because that's the mood I'm in. 'Oh no! Depressed, boss?' Shut up, you little moron! I'm melancholic. 'Oh, that's okay.' It's actually quite nice, man.

Anyway, where are we? 'Here.' Oh, it's the Tuesday morning PR email, uh, back by popular demand. I haven't had many this week, yet. 'Everyone's on holiday, boss. We should be on holiday.' Shut up! There's only a few days to go. / Right -

With less than two weeks until Christmas, our thoughts inevitably turn to decorating the tree and curling up by the fire. But for over three million UK households affected by fuel poverty, it could be a cold, cold Christmas ahead. And many millions more financially vulnerable people will struggle to keep the chestnuts roasting this Christmas.

'Two weeks?! When did you get this fucking email?!' Last Friday. It should have said just over a week. But it doesn't matter. Stop trying to change the subject. You're obviously working for the bosses, Voice. 'Bosses? You're the only boss I know.' I'm talking about the bosses of worldwide capitalism. 'Oh.' They're the ones to blame for this. Please try to keep up.

Research from Baringa Partners, conducted earlier this year, exposed financial vulnerability as one of society's greatest hidden problems. A staggering one in three adults in the UK consider themselves to be financially vulnerable; yet only between three and four percent are classified as such by energy and banking companies, respectively.

Fine. But who's to blame? Come on, Vanessa! Tell us!

Vanessa Clark from Baringa Partners, commented: "Christmas should be a time of year for celebrating with friends and family. But for many people, the reality is very different as they struggle to cope with the financial pressures associated with the holiday. We know that the disconnect between energy and banking firms' views of their customers and individuals' view of their own circumstances is mirrored in other industries. Not only are companies failing to help 90% of vulnerable people, they are also failing to properly manage the risk that a third of their customers may default on their bills. With one in three people set to borrow money to cover the cost of food and presents over Christmas, it is clear that companies in all sectors need to better understand the challenges facing their vulnerable customers and move away from treating them as exceptional cases."

Well, that's not it, really, is it? Why can't so many people pay their bills? That's what we want to know. 'Tell us, Mikey!' Because capitalism is failing. It only serves the lucky gits right at the top. 'Lucky? Hang on a minute! Those guys have worked hard for their money.' Oh, one or two of them have. One or two, man. [And do they pay any tax?] But most of them have inherited their wealth. There ain't no social mobility no more. 'Well, does Vanessa have a solution then?' Ha! Let's find out -

Vanessa Clark from Baringa Partners said: "Companies from all industries, regulators and the third sector need to work together to address two major challenges. First, they need to work smarter with the data they collectively have to identify customers and embed that knowledge across all records and supporting systems. This information then needs to travel with the customer and not get lost at the point of switching; a mechanism to support Priority Service Register (PSR) collaboration, for example, is crucial. Second, they need to help customers feel comfortable being identified in the first place. This may mean changing the language we use around vulnerability to improve levels of trust. Christmas can be one of the toughest times of year for vulnerable customers. With the additional costs of presents and food, many of the hardest hit have to decide between keeping warm and celebrating Christmas. This is not a choice they should have to make."

Er ... 'So the solution is to be smarter with the data?' Well ... 'Maybe someone should destroy all the data, like Tyler Durden at the end of Fight Club.' Your bosses won't like that, Voice. 'You're my only boss, Mikey. And you're still not paying me. When am I going to get a salary?' Unbelievable! You're my intern, for Christ's sake! How many times do I have to explain it to you?


Anything else? Yes. Big time. There are a lot of strikes on, and the conservatives say the strikers are causing untold misery. 'Ha!' Well, I think they're jealous. It's the conservatives' job to cause untold misery. I mean, that's what happens when you conserve your own privilege at the expense of everyone else. 'Did Vanessa say that?!' No, I did. Merry Christmas!


Len, mate, pack it in! / I'm getting depressed now ...