When it comes to discussions about the cost of energy and other utilities, there is always a missing and unspoken link.
Radio phone in shows, television news, social media platforms and any amount of newspaper articles will talk endlessly about ‘increases in wholesale supplies’. The ‘war in Ukraine’, ‘unexpectedly cold winters’ and ‘technical problems with pipe lines’.
What they won’t mention is that the natural resources which supply the energy and other utilities are all in the hands of private companies and individuals. What they won’t mention is that increases in prices are driven by profiteering and delivering dividends to shareholders.
Gas and electricity were privatised more than thirty years ago. Separate, privately owned, systems were established for supply, transmission and distribution and the ‘Big Six’ energy companies cornered the market, saw off any competition and established a very profitable monopoly. Consumers have been, and still are, paying the costs ever since.
Energy and other utility providers don’t operate as a public service. They exist to make and maximise profits.
The Government’s response to the latest hikes in home heating and other bills has been to offer short term and, in practice, woefully inadequate financial relief to consumers. At best this is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.
The solution to the cost of utilities crisis is not in vote catching gestures but in bringing gas, electricity, broadband services and fuel into public ownership and public control.
The increased poverty, deprivation and mounting mental health pressures caused by the current cost of living crisis is being fuelled by the astronomical price hikes in gas, electricity and petrol. At the root of the problems lie the private ownership of the natural resources and their distribution and delivery chains.
We work for our public services. We use them. We pay for them. We must own them.