ELECTRIC and gas bills have soared by as much as 32% for electricity and 26% in gas in the last few months, a new study by the GMB has shown, throwing families, pensioners and those on the breadline into fuel poverty.
The GMB has called for a cap to be implemented to stop these sorts of outrageous price hikes which will leave many with their gas and electricity cut off. GMB said: ‘The pantomime that passes for UK energy policy and energy bills regulation continues as the very idea of a competitive market in a natural monopoly is a contradiction in terms. GMB is calling for energy bills to be capped.
‘GB Energy has increased electricity prices by 32.3%, Flow by 18%, npower by 15%, SSE by 14.9% and E.ON by 13.8%. GB Energy has increased gas prices by 26.4%, LoCO2 by 9.9%, First Utility by 8.8%, Bristol Energy by 5.9% and npower by 4.8%.’
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary for Energy said: ‘Energy regulator Ofgem has been a purring pussycat for years and should be abolished with all its regulatory functions taken over by the government itself, making its regulatory role subject to scrutiny and accountable to parliament with the powers to cap prices if deemed necessary.
‘The regulator had powers to cap prices after the industry was privatised but when the so-called “free” market was introduced into a natural monopoly the regulator lost the powers and the big six were given a free hand. We know what happened next.’
Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary said: ‘The argument that energy companies are fixing prices doesn’t really stack up. The Competition Markets Authority reported in July 2015 and did not suggest there was price fixing. The behaviour of some energy companies – especially the smaller ones – with frequent eye-watering increases, suggest companies are in real trouble.
‘When small energy companies go bust it hits consumers and Ofgem then has to find a company to take on those consumers’ accounts. The introduction of competition was supposed to deal with the problems in the energy market and drive down prices. The strategy clearly isn’t working. Wholesale prices have been volatile and it is leaving small companies vulnerable.’
Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trade Unions Alliance, said: ‘These scandalous increases are only the first and show that the last consideration of these companies is their customers. They are only concerned about making superprofits. There is only one solution: that is the nationalisation of the industry and that it be put under workers management.’