FUEL SURE: 22 things for public sector comms to worry about in the winter fuel crisis

Okay, I tried not to use the planning quote cliche but in the end I couldn’t find a better one, so…

‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’

Benjamin Franklin

It was this that I thought of reflecting on the impending doom of the fuel crunch.

If we do nothing, then millions will default on their bills, people will starve and freeze to death. For the second time in two years society risks falling over.

It made me think about the impact of the impending winter on public sector comms.

We can start with people worried about paying their own bills and maybe be more reluctant to work from home. If it costs £7 to travel and £10 to work from home for the day then the sums don’t work.

We already hear of nurses using food banks, firefighters also using the emergency food ration as well as civil servants. It’s no longer shocking news that food banks exist in modern Britain.

So, what things do we have to plan for?

Well, there’s a series of things some that will effect every sector and others that are sector specific.

Police, local government, NHS and fire

Here’s things everyone needs to think about.

  1. Theft and petty crime is likely to rise.
  2. The risk of civil disorder.
  3. Staff being the victim of crime.
  4. Buildings being the victim of crime.
  5. The organisation not being able to heat all buildings.
  6. The organisation not being able to pay staff.
  7. Mental health deteriorates amongst staff.
  8. Retaining and recruiting staff.
  9. Working from home when it becomes unaffordable.

Talking to people, two years ago there was enough in reserve for people to face the impending problem.

Some of these people went above and beyond in the pandemic now face in the inflation spiral effective pay cuts and the sack.

With 161,000 dead, burnout, tiredness, exhaustion, austerity and quiet quitting there isn’t the bank of adrenaline to fall back on.

Cracks exposed by bad management at all levels have opened up over the last two years and with a labour shortage it’s possible to take the gamble of walking off the job one month, take a rest and go back to work when you’re good and ready.

Social media staff facing more online abuse

Across the public sector, around a third saw online abuse weekly and 10 per cent saw racist abuse in the same period. This takes a toll. Spread the burden with a rota that shares access. Adopt a collaborative approach.

Fire and rescue

  1. Communicating about the risk of using candles.
  2. Communicating about the risk of stealing gas and electricity.
  3. Dangerous cooking, such as camping stoves in the house.
  4. Cutting back on fire safety.

Local government

  1. Public health in a time when willingness to follow advice is reduced along with the money to comply.
  2. School meals.
  3. Emergency food support.
  4. The permanent social care crisis.
  5. Stay warm advice.
  6. Budget advice.
  7. Council tax arrears.
  8. Declining income from venues.
  9. Instituting warm banks.
  10. Social cohesion.


  1. Spiralling crime rates.
  2. Risk of civil disorder.


  1. Stay warm advice.
  2. General health declining.
  3. Health information aimed at the vulnerable.
  4. Nutrition advice.

None of this would fill anyone with joy.

There is far less joy in failing to plan for what is coming.

What planning can you do in advance?

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