Thursday, July 31, 2008

Huge Gas Profit Sparks Gas Bill Fury

As households reeled from the biggest single increase in gas bills ever seen, British Gas owners, Centrica, today had the bare-faced cheek to announce a staggering £992m profit from its customers. But there were few words of comfort or hope from the government, for the beleaguered customer. 

Instead, New Labour ministers were more interested in plotting and posturing for position at the top of the Party's food chain.

Briish Gas owner, Centrica, is raising gas prices by a record 35% while its profits are a fat one billion pounds. This comes just days after rival EDF energy put up prices by a whoping 22%. 

Only this week, MPs on the energy select committee warned that the energy supply industry isn't competitive. And called for a rethink of the whole business. 

For all customers it will be a harsh winter. For those on low incomes, the fuel poverty trap will hit hard. 

The government is talking of pumping cash into some form of help. But no amount of cash will be enough and the government, can't afford it anyway. 

One answer is to impose a windfall tax on the obscene profits and plough that back into relief. But these are big, powerful and influential international companies in a cosy relationship with the government.

The suppliers use the Brown excuse and blame it on global oil prices. The truth is that, unlike in the rest of Europe, these global companies know they can milk the UK consumer for all they're worth, without fear of EU or government intervention.

British Gas is the customer-friendly trading name in England and Wales for the huge global Centrica corporation. EDF is owned by the French. Both use their huge profits to buy up energy companies world-wide.

EDF and Centrica were this week, set to announce a huge £12b deal to buy the UK nuclear power industry, British Energy, tightening their grip even further on the country's energy production and supply. 

The only answer is a windfall tax and government intervention to reign them in. But can this really happen? 

It was Blair and Brown's New Labour which created the open market and allowed these global corporations to flourish and put profits before people, in the first place. 

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