A SURVEY conducted this week by BBC Radio 5 Live has revealed that more than one third of people in Britain live in fear of not being able to pay the massive heating bills that have resulted from the huge price increases inflicted by the private energy companies.
25% of those polled reported that they had been forced to cut back on heating, and endured ‘unacceptably cold’ homes over the past year as they struggled to pay these exorbitant demands, while a further 63% said they had been forced to cut back on energy use.
Most telling of all, however, was the overriding majority, 69%, who came out firmly in support of renationalising the entire energy industry as the only way to bring down prices and stop millions of working class families, plus increasingly large sections of the middle class, being trapped into ‘fuel poverty’.
While wages have been cut, the profits of the big six private energy companies – British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE, who supply energy to 98% of all homes in Britain – have soared under the coalition government to a massive £3.3 billion.
According to the government energy regulator Ofgem, the typical domestic fuel bill is now £1,420 a year, compared to £1,105 in May 2010, an increase of £315, while the average wage for the same period has dropped by 5.5% – the biggest decrease in all of Europe.
If the situation is intolerable at present, it is set to become an absolute ‘volcano’ in this winter according to the Price comparison website energyhelpline.com, which has warned that energy companies will be looking at increasing rates between five and 10 per cent before the winter months, which means the average household bill will rise by up to £142.
The website’s director, Mark Todd, said: ‘I would not be surprised if they are announced within the next two months. In fact, you could describe the energy market as a volcano about to erupt. The lava may soon descend on consumers across the country, wiping out their household budgets.’
This is the stark reality facing the working class, having to choose between food or heating as their money is wiped out in the name of profits for the energy cartels.
Nationalised industries, from energy to the railways, have been handed over to the massive private companies acting as cartels and monopolies to screw every last penny they can, regardless of the misery they create.
The response of the Labour party leadership to this crisis is completely treacherous: they restrict themselves to calling for the government to ‘crack down’ on profiteering, and refuse all demands to renationalise.
Under the hammer blows of poverty inflicted by a capitalist system that places profit before everything, the working class is forced to go beyond this reformist treachery.
It is demanding the renationalisation of these industries – in effect, it is demanding an end to capitalist profiteering through the expropriation of the capitalist class itself.
This can only be achieved through the struggle to bring down the coalition government through a general strike and go forward to a workers government that will not only renationalise these industries but will nationalise all major industries, along with the banks, and place them under workers control as part of a socialist planned economy where production is for human need not for the profit of a handful of capitalists and bankers.
This requires a completely new leadership in the trade unions, a leadership that stops all this talk about the ‘feasibility’ of a general strike and gets on with the urgent job of calling it now.
Only the WRP is building the leadership required today – join the WRP and come to the YS lobby of the TUC to demand these leaders fight or get out.