Have you noticed the rise in energy prices?
I topped up my electricity key just a few days ago, but I’m already in the emergency.
If it hasn’t hit you on a practical level yet, you’ve probably at least heard about it on the news. Four of the Big Six energy companies have already raised their prices, by an average of 9.1%, and the other two are going to do it soon as well. This has led to a huge public worry about poor families and the elderly struggling to heat their homes this winter. The Independent reports that 3 million elderly citizens are worried about staying warm in the coming months. Apparently this fuel poverty could be a death sentence for vulnerable people.
The major energy companies have been summoned to parliament to explain themselves.
And what was their excuse for these heartless price hikes?
They blamed it on green taxes.
That’s right. They said that their profits were ”not particularly big” – I kid you not – and that prices could be slashed within weeks if the government would only cut these pesky green taxes that are funding renewable energy development. I honestly cannot believe these guys. The (minimal, by the way) green tax is supposed to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel generation and fund renewable energy projects. It’s meant to encourage energy companies to invest in clean power themselves, not allow them to keep massive profits while you and me pick up the tab.
Progressive as it is, The Telegraph says David Cameron has been bullied into promising to cut the green levy next year. If he does, it will be a big step back in terms of adhering to the 2008 Climate Change Act.
As if it wasn’t already outrageous, the energy companies are having the cheek to claim their profits are ”not particularly big” after they’ve been caught in a tax-avoidance scandal. Three of the Big Six recently saved £140 million by utilising legal tax loops. How on earth do they have the nerve to tuck away millions in secret profits, avoid contributing to the government that seems to love them so much, price poor OAPs out of the energy market and try to demonise green taxation?
What Cameron and his crew should be doing is:
- Tightening corporate tax loopholes
- Continuing the green tax
- Raising the state pension
- Allowing low-income households to apply for a winter fuel grant
- Investing even more in renewable energy
- Insulating homes so they’re more energy efficient
I’m sick of large corporations like the Big Six throwing their weight around at number 10 while the rest of us are living in austerity.
It’s time the government started putting our interests first.
The Independent, Monday 28th October, 2013.