Energy prices: don’t be fooled – your bill is still going to be high. But with wholesale prices at their lowest in four years, ask your supplier why.
Before you do anything else, watch this – it’s Martin Lewis explaining what the energy price cap change in July will actually mean to you:
So the first thing you need to know is that the drop in average bills from £2,500 to £2,074 is meaningless to you because you’re probably not paying the average. You would be better-off looking at it as a 17 per cent fall and working out what that means for your personal bill – after removing the standing charges, of course.
Yes, the standing charges are remaining the same, meaning you’ll pay around £300 next year, just to be able to have electricity and gas in your home. So people using less energy can’t save much by cutting their usage.
There is a consultation on the possibility of cutting the standing charge but we need to remember that our energy firms are greedy and will do their best to keep prices as high as possible, no matter what that means to you.
In the autumn and winter, bills are likely to rise again, we’re being told. This strikes me as strange, because the energy firms buy their fuel “many months in advance”. Note that we aren’t being told how many months in advance they buy it.
If, for example, it’s seven months, then in December the price of energy should be the cheapest it’s been in two years, because of this:
Average UK domestic energy bill to fall to £2,074 from July.
UK natural gas trading at 62p a therm, same as in Oct 2018; was 800p in March 2022.
Average bill should be £800 less.
Ofgem and energy companies quick to raise bills, slow to reduce them.
Energy firms have historically claimed that they “smooth out” the fluctuating cost of their product by averaging out the price over a long period of time, as well.
But This Writer has doubts when energy analysts like Cornwall Insight say further price cuts are unlikely, especially if there’s a cold winter and the UK has to compete with other countries to buy fuel.
I thought we were supposed to be buying our fuel months, or even years, in advance.
So shouldn’t the energy price this winter be extremely low?
I think we need explicit clarity on this – I mean actual, black-and-white figures showing exactly what electricity and gas have been costing the energy firms, exactly how they’ve been “smoothing out” that cost (and between what dates) and why they are apparently failing to pass on the current savings.
How are their profits at the moment? What are they projected to be over the next year?
It seems to me that we – the consumers – are being ripped off brazenly.
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Rishi Sunak’s swimming pool complex: he has had the local part of the national grid improved in order to heat it – while most public pools are closing because they can’t afford to pay their heating bills.
This story can be summed up in a series of tweets. Like this:
Two press stories today highlight the grotesque inequality we face in our country:
▪️ Rishi Sunak has had the electricity grid in his area upgraded to heat his private pool
▪️ England has lost almost 400 swimming pools since 2010, with more health-deprived areas losing out most
A publicly owned electricity generation firm could save Britons nearly £21bn a year, according to new analysis that bolsters Labour’s case to launch a national energy company if the party gains power.
Thinktank Common Wealth has calculated that the cost of generating electricity to power homes and businesses could be reduced by £20.8bn or £252 per household a year under state ownership, according to a report seen by the Guardian.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Some of us have spent years saying the Tories are living in the past; now Boris Johnson’s Brexit is proving the truth of it.
He is putting us on the brink of war with France for the first time in 206 years.
He has made us the villains by trying to impose rules on fishing near the Channel Islands that were not part of the UK-EU trade deal. The French are – rightly – refusing to countenance them and are threatening to cut off Jersey’s power supply.
So he has reacted in a manner that is not only arrogant, it is also typically – for a Tory – archaic: he is sending a gunboat. Two, in fact,
Spike Milligan was writing jokes about this, back in the 1950s; rulers of a country whose empire is falling into ruins, desperately trying to hold on to a greatness they no longer have with brinkmanship. The comedy is that they would be fools to launch the military expeditions they threaten.
But there is nothing funny about this. It merely proves that those who claimed that the EU – a pan-European alliance of nations – was created to prevent another war on that continent were right; the UK’s hardly been out for five minutes and we’re setting ourselves up for a rumble.
It is ridiculous. It is insane.
Johnson will lead the UK into a humiliating defeat – both legally and militarily, if he takes it that far.
And he’s going to make the rest of us – right-thinking UK citizens – look ridiculous too.
If nobody reintroduces him to sanity, I wonder where it will end.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
People across the country will be taking part in a different kind of protest – on the day of the state opening of Parliament.
May 27 will be the first National Switch Off Day, when thousands of people have already pledged to stop using gas and electricity, and stop shopping in non-local shops for 24 hours.
Organised by a varied group of campaigners, this will be the first in a series of multi-issue actions that will take place once a month. Reasons for taking part range from keeping the NHS public and tackling issues like overpriced parking in hospitals, to stopping benefit cuts, to issues affecting vulnerable people and their carers such as the cold weather benefits to the elderly, to keeping the Human Rights Act, to stopping fracking – and mostly that all members of the general public get a voice in matters that concern them.
Paul, a single parent with two sons, said: “Traditional protesting on the streets is fine but it doesn’t affect the government, banks or big corporations. It’s time to switch off and hurt them in the pocket. No electric. No gas. No spending money. Whatever your protest, let’s unite for one day a month and switch off.”
Brenda, an organiser of the action, added: “David Cameron: this country is unsettled. You are giving your MPs a wage increase, but what about the people? Low wages and queuing for food? For God’s sake, this is 2015 – not 1915!
“We need faith in our government and we haven’t had that for 53 years. I’ve voted in all elections, I’m 71, and the last one was nothing but a sham. I’m ashamed of them all. They are bringing this country to its knees.”
And Suzanne made clear: “Rather than being the action of sore losers who are disgruntled at a single election result, this is the culmination of more than five years’ building resentment towards a group of people who seem only to represent a minority of wealthy people in this country.”
With only 24 per cent of the electorate represented by the current government, organisers said it seems that the other 76 per cent may be keen to give up their home comforts for one day a month to show their displeasure, and hope that some kind of dialogue can be made between the government and the people who will be hit hardest by its cuts.
This is an important start.
We should also be building up a database of business interests held by Conservative donors and MPs, ensuring that they do not receive our business. Beyond that, we should also consider boycotting firms that receive government contracts.
Apathy doesn’t work. It would be madness to sit back and let them carry on – and paying them for what they’re doing.
Think about it. And please join the day of action. May 27 is Wednesday.
Harriet Harman: Will the acting leader of the Labour Party listen to pleas from the grassroots to get Labour back on track?
If the Labour Party is to regain the confidence it has lost, it needs to re-state its identity with a core message of purpose – one that not only encapsulates what Labour is about, but also what it opposes.
That is what was missing from Labour’s general election campaign, and is as much a reason for Ed Miliband’s defeat as the Conservative campaign, which was not based on objective facts but on political spin.
In a nutshell, it is time to remind the voters and the public that Labour is the enabling party. This creates a clear contrast with the Conservatives – the party of restriction.
So, for example, with the National Health Service, Labour should support a service available to everyone – free. That means noprivateinvolvement. With the Tory privatisation in full swing, funds are being restricted and so are services. The NHS is now a postcode lottery, with care allocated on the basis of profitability. That’s not good enough; the privateers must be told to jog on.
Education must also be available to everybody, up to the level each person can achieve (or wants to). Again, this means there should be no charge for state-provided services. A state school system has no place for privately-owned ‘academies’ or ‘free schools’. These are Tory devices; the private sector will, by its nature, restrict access in order to extract a profit. It also means notuitionfees for students in further/higher education.
Labour should be helping anyone who wants to start a business, by ensuring there are as few obstacles in the way as possible; it must be the enabling party. That means, for example, a graded taxation system, with lower business rates and taxes for start-ups, progressing to a higher rate for medium-sized enterprises, and a highest rate for multinationals – who should be taxed on all takings made in the UK; no excuses.
Another part of the enabling agenda must be ensuring that people can pay a minimum price for things we cannot live without: Accommodation, services, utilities.
There is now an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for many people – mostly because the Tories sold off so many council houses and did not replace them. This is why the Tories were able to impose the Bedroom Tax on so many innocent people – a restrictive idea, intended to push people out of some areas and into others; shifting Labour voters out of places the Tories didn’t think they should have to share with the riff-raff, you see – a gerrymandering tactic to make those constituencies easier to win in elections. The solution is simple: Build council houses again.
When the utility companies – gas, water and electricity suppliers – were privatised, we were all promised that household bills would be kept down by more efficient private-sector business models and private investment. That has not happened. Instead, consumers have been held to ransom by a small cabal of corporations who have been able to charge rip-off prices. Remember the electricity price scandal of 2013? Who told those firms to quit their restrictive practices and cut bills? Labour. The enabling party. The fear of a Labour government imposing new rules in the consumer’s favour helped hold the greedy private bosses in check for a while, but now we have a Conservative government. How long do you think it will be before prices soar? This Writer reckons they’ll take the first opportunity. Even now, after Labour managed to secure price cuts, the poorest families still have to choose between heating and eating during the winter (the phrase has been used so often it is now a modern cliché). This must not be allowed to continue and the solution is clear: Re-nationalise. There are even two bonus factors in such a plan: Firstly, as many of these utilities are owned – or part-owned – by firms or governments based abroad, it will ensure that our bills pay people in the UK rather than boosting foreign economies at the expense of our own and, secondly, takings will help the UK Treasury balance the books.
There is at least one other privatised service that could also be re-nationalised: The railway system. Prices have rocketed while government subsidies have also soared, since the system was turned over to private hands in the early 1990s. This is madness; it is a huge drain on resources and must not be allowed to continue. We should re-nationalise and follow the example of Northern Ireland, where the service was never privatised and where any profit is ploughed into improvements, not profit.
Then there is our grocery bill, which keeps escalating. This is a particularly thorny subject as, for example, farmers are being ripped off by supermarkets over the price of milk, but the same corporations will happily send apples to the other side of the world and back, just to have them polished. It’s time to straighten out that system as well – although it will take a while.
So this is how Labour should frame its arguments from now on: Labour enables; the Tories restrict.
It should be stressed that the themes raised above are just starting-points which occurred to This Writer while considering the issue last night. The above is not an exhaustive list. Undoubtedly there are many more.
This Gary Baker cartoon illustrates the belief that successive Labour leaders, from Blair to Brown to Miliband, have steered the party ever-further away from its support base until it became a pale shadow of the Conservative Party it claims to oppose, leaving the majority of the UK’s population with nobody to speak for them.
Watching a drama on DVD yesterday evening (yes, there is more to life than Vox Political), Yr Obdt Srvt was impressed by the very old idea of the partners in a married couple supporting each other – that behind every great man is a great woman, and vice versa.
It occurred to This Writer that perhaps the biggest problem with the Labour Party’s campaign – not just for the May election but over the last five years – has been the leadership’s insistent refusal to support the requirements of its grassroots campaigners.
So, for example, on the economy: We all know for a fact that the big crash of 2008 or thereabouts was caused by the profligacy of bankers, and not by any overspending on the part of the Labour government of the time. Economists say it, blogs like VP say it, and we all have the evidence to support the claim. So why the blazes didn’t the Labour Party say it? Instead they let the Conservative Party walk all over us with their speeches about “The mess that Labour left us”.
On austerity: We all know that fiscal austerity will never achieve the economic boom that George Osborne claimed for it. If you take money out of the economy, there is less money – not more. What the UK needed in 2010 was a programme of investment in creating jobs with decent wages for the people who make the economy work – ordinary people, not bankers, fatcat business executives and MPs. The money would then have trickled up through the economy, creating extra value as it went. Quantitative easing could have done some good if it had been used properly, but after the Bank of England created the new money it passed the cash to other banks, rather than putting it anywhere useful. The Conservative Party said austerity was the only way forward: “There is no alternative”. Why did Labour agree? Party bigwigs might protest that Labour’s austerity was less, but the simple fact is that the UK was never in any danger of bankruptcy and there was no need to balance the books in a hurry. There’s still no need for it. Austerity was just a way of taking money from those of us who need it and giving it to those who don’t.
On the national debt: The Tories have hammered home a message that their policies are cutting the national deficit and paying down the national debt. That message is a lie. The national debt has doubled since the Conservatives took over. Labour hardly mentioned that.
On benefits: Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ have cut a murderous swathe through the sick and the poor, with more than 10,000 deaths recorded in 11 months during 2011, among ESA claimants alone. Many have chosen to attack Labour for introducing ESA in the first place, and for employing Atos to carry out the brutal and nonsensical Work Capability Assessments, based on a bastardised version of the unproven ‘biopsychosocial’ model, that ruled so many people ineligible for a benefit they had funded throughout their working lives. Labour should have promised to scrap ESA and the Work Capability Assessment in favour of an alternative – possibly even a rational – system. But Labour continued to support the Work Capability Assessment, earning the hatred of the sick and disabled. Why? According to Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith, it was because the party leadership was afraid of provoking the right-wing press. Well done, Labour! As a result, instead of tearing into Labour like rabid attack dogs, the right-wing media… tore into Labour like rabid attack dogs. This pitifully weak attitude made no difference at all and Labour would have earned more votes by promising to ditch a policy it should never have adopted.
On education: This Writer attended a hustings on education, here in Brecon and Radnorshire. It was attended by many local teachers and it was clear that they all wanted to hear someone say they would clear away the layers of bureaucracy and constant interference that interfere with their jobs, and allow them to get on with teaching our youngsters. Nobody said anything of the kind, including the Labour candidate. Meanwhile, Michael Gove’s pet project – the very expensive ‘Free Schools’, continues unabated, and state-owned schools continue to be turned into privately-run ‘academies’, with all their assets turned over to private companies for free. And what about the debate over what should be taught in our schools and colleges? With employers now merrily shirking any training responsibilities and taking on foreign workers because they know what to do, can our educational institutions not take up the slack and provide that training for British people, so we don’t need to import as many people from abroad?
On immigration and the European Union: Right wingers including Tories and Kippers (members and supporters of UKIP) have made many claims that immigrants are a threat to the UK and to our way of life. In fact, migrant workers are a net benefit to the country, contributing far more to the UK Treasury in taxes than they ever claim in benefits. Ah, but they’re occupying houses that could be taken by British people; they use our NHS and their children take up places in our schools – and it’s all Labour’s fault because Labour signed the treaty that let them in, according to the right-wing critics. In fact, the Conservative Party signed that treaty, in the early 1970s. Free movement between European Union countries has always been a condition of membership and was never a problem when the EU consisted of nations that were on a relatively equal economic standing. The problem arose when the poorer eastern European countries were admitted to the union and people from those countries took advantage of the rule to seek a better life in the more affluent West. The simple fact is that those nations should not have been allowed full Union membership until their economies had grown enough that people would not want to move here – that was a matter that EU officials failed to address, not the UK government. Labour’s response was to fall in line with the right-wingers and promise harsh immigration controls. People naturally asked why they should vote Labour if Labour was no different from the nasty Tories.
On the NHS: Labour promised to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, ending the creeping privatisation of the NHS – and then said that it would limit the profits of private firms working in the NHS. This is contradictory and confusing. People wanted to end NHS privatisation, not let it go on with limited profits!
On housing: Labour promised an increased home-building programme, but what people need right now are council houses – cheaply-rentable properties run on a not-for-profit basis by local authorities. They need this because there is an appalling shortage of appropriate housing for individuals and families of varying sizes, due to the Conservative ‘Right to Buy’ policies that started in the 1980s. Council houses were sold off to their tenants, who in turn sold them to private landlords, who rented them out for more money than councils ever demanded. Labour never offered to build council houses again. Instead, we were promised more expensive alternatives from the private sector that we didn’t – and don’t – want.
On privatisation: More than 70 per cent of the general public wanted energy firms re-nationalised when the controversy over bills arose in 2013. Labour should have promised at least to consider it. Labour did not. Labour is the party that should represent public ownership of utilities. The private water, electricity and gas companies have ripped off consumers with high rates that were never part of the offer when their shares were floated on the stock exchange. But Labour was happy to allow those firms to continue.
These are just a few reasons Labour let the people down. They arise from the disastrous philosophical reversal of the 1990s that changed the party from one that represents the people into one that exploits us instead. Now, right-wingers in the party like Peter Mandelson are claiming that Ed Miliband pulled Labour too far back to the Left; instead, they want Labour to push further into Tory territory, utterly abandoning its core voters.
That would be a tragedy – not only for the people of the UK, but also for Labour. We already have one Conservative Party; we don’t need another.
Labour must rid itself of the right-wingers in its ranks and return to its original values – before it is too late for all of us.
Or is it already too late, thanks to the dithering of the last five years?
So much for democracy: Reports say China’s rulers have blocked Instagram in a bid to stop images of Hong Kong riot police unloading canisters of pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of peaceful demonstrators – so here’s a nice shot of demonstrators handing out pro-democracy leaflets instead.
Hot on the heels of Vox Political‘s article stating that the Conservatives have been selling off the UK’s most important infrastructure to anyone with something that can be used as currency in their pocket comes this confirmation from Pride’s Purge:
Chinese organisations and businesses with close links to the Chinese Communist leadership have already large stakes and controlling interests in huge parts of UK essential infrastructure such as water, gas, electricity, telecommunications and transport.
Read the rest on Pride’s Purge. The article concludes:
“If so many people are concerned about the loss of UK sovereignty to the EU – shouldn’t we be having a referendum on the loss of our sovereignty to the Chinese too?”
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