Same Old (S)Tories

The first major policy announcement of the new Truss government has, unsurprisingly, all the hallmarks of right-wing, conservative economics and a blatant disregard for the lives and difficulties being faced by working people.

Despite overwhelming support for the nationalisation of energy companies – recent polls suggest that over 70% of people are in favour – the response of the Truss administration is to bail out the companies already making billions of pounds profit through government borrowing, which tax payers will be repaying for years to come. It’s the same old Tories and the same old story.

When working people are looking for an answer to the current energy and cost of living crisis they need to look beyond the Conservatives and also beyond the Labour Party. Liz Truss won’t take energy companies into public ownership and neither will Labour’s Keir Starmer. He says he’s ‘not in favour’ of it – despite Labour’s election manifesto promises.

In the past year energy bills in the UK – where oil, gas and energy are all owned by multi-national companies- have increased by 215%. In the same period bills in France – where the government owns the gas companies and is the major shareholder in the main electricity provider – have risen by just 4%.

Taking our utilities into public ownership could, at a stroke, alleviate the human misery and suffering currently being experienced by young and old alike.

The cost of taking the ‘Big 5’ energy companies into public ownership is estimated to be around £2.8 billion. That’s a lot of money, until you realise that since June last year the government has spent £2.7billion bailing out 28 failing energy companies.

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. Neither the Tories, nor Labour, are going to do that.

Urgent Meeting with Utilities Regulator

The Workers Party has requested an urgent meeting with the Utility Regulator to discuss recent hikes in energy costs, the profit returns of the main energy suppliers and any proposed initiatives to protect consumers.

Yesterday’s announcements will see the cost of gas and electric increase again by around 30%.

Anyone struggling with paying bills should contact Advice NI at https://www.adviceni.net/money-debt/debt or other advice services.

The Time for Public Ownership of Energy Resources is Now!

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.