Their profits fuel poverty

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
13 February 2007

A recent survey shows that what the government calls "fuel poverty" has increased by 33% over the past year: today over 2m pensioners spend more than 10% of their income on their energy bills.

But guess what? BG, the oil and gas production group has just announced a 21% profit increase, up to £1.6bn. And this despite having handed out £1bn to its shareholders!

This is the company whose chief executive stated, last November that "gas prices in the UK will have to go up in the long-term", on the grounds that North Sea resources were supposed to be drying up. What he forgot to say was that BG had just discovered 5 new oil and gas fields in the North Sea! Then, of course, these are people who make a living (and a very comfortable one at that) by pushing prices up!

But why should gas prices go up? In fact, over the past 10 months gas costs have gone down by more than half. And it is only now that British Gas, the distributing company, announces a cut in its prices - but by only 17%.

The truth is, that with bill increases averaging something like 40% over the past year, energy companies have been overbilling the rest of us beyond their wildest dreams - up to an average £1,100 per household per year! Not to mention the use of cons like the so-called "rebates" promised to those who pay their bills in advance by fixed monthly instalments. The trick then is to force the naive consumers to accumulate credit over and above their consumption.

This is highway robbery by a small gang of very big companies which are supposed to be competing with one another for consumers, but are actually conspiring together to keep prices as high as they can. Ironically, this is supposed to be kept under the scrutiny of one of the so-called "regulators" created at the time of privatisation. But the only thing these "regulators" do is to enforce the right of the profit sharks to rip the rest of us off.

Meanwhile, more and more people have to suffer from lack of heating - pensioners, but also those on very low income. In this society the enormous profits raked in by a handful of capitalists only reflect the suffering of millions. It stinks!