November 28th, 2013
From Pam and Toby Ebert published in North Devon Journal 21st November
Can anyone doubt that the energy market is completely dysfunctional?
The biggest six energy companies, who supply 95% of customers, make large profits, pay their managers large bonuses, routinely increase their prices by 10% per year, are mostly foreign-owned and avoid paying corporation tax. On top of that they operate as a price-fixing cartel, by all increasing their prices by about the same amount at about the same time.
They blame wholesale energy costs for the price rises, but this has been shown to be untrue. Smaller energy companies point out that wholesale prices have gone up and down over the last two years, not gone up by 10% per year. And when was the last time your energy bill went down?
They blame 'green' taxes, but these too have hardly gone up in the last few years.
They get away with this behaviour because the the Government does nothing about it. The Prime Minister promises a new law to force the companies to put you 'on their cheapest tariff'. Well this is not going to help very much if their cheapest tariff is, in fact, a very expensive tariff. And the energy minister's advice is: put on an extra jumper!
Already at least 15% of people in the North Devon are in fuel poverty (i.e. have to spend more than one tenth of their income on energy).
Where is this all going to end? We can't keep paying an extra 10% per year when our average pay is going up by 1%. Year after year more and more people have to decide whether to 'heat or eat'.
Labour are determined to do something about energy prices by freezing them for 20 months while a longer term solution is worked out. The big six companies could be broken up and Ofgem could be given the powers to regulate prices, as happens in other countries. Privatisation of our utilities was a big mistake. It may be too expensive to re-nationalise them, but at least we can regulate them more effectively.
Meanwhile the governing parties, the Lib Dems and Conservatives, have completely lost sight of how most of us live. They seem to be willing to do anything, except the important thing: reduce prices!
Regards, Pam and Toby Ebert
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