Forced into fuel poverty
Letter printed in today's Morning Star newspaper
OIL is currently trading at around $40 a barrel on international markets. I well recall Scottish Power and all the other energy companies citing oil at $145 per barrel as the reason for unprecedented price increases last autumn.
Like millions of other Scots families, we've just received our gas and electricity bill for October/November, which, unlike the oil price, is still sky high.
As a result of these exorbitant bills, Energywatch estimates that 5.5 million households are living in fuel poverty. And Scotland suffers disproportionate pain in this regard, as the Scottish government well knows.
It announced in October that 30 per cent of households were in fuel poverty.
To fall into this unwelcome category, a household must pay 10 per cent of its income in fuel bills. In Scotland in 2008, an astonishing 10 per cent of households paid 20 per cent of their income to power companies.
To add even more insult to injury, those on prepayment meters, usually the poorest, are paying the highest tariffs of all. How on earth did things come to this?
It is not difficult to see why there is considerable contempt for the energy companies and indeed with an ineffectual government as people struggle with the severest winter in years and with the highest gas and electricity prices ever.
This industry is out of control and ought to be back in public hands with the poorest on the cheapest tariffs.
The responsibility for providing heat and light to everyone, particularly in the dead of winter, should not to be left to faceless multinational corporations which repeatedly put profits before the needs of the population.