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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 October 2012

Gas prices - All companies join price hike

Alec Price

Following the price hikes by four of the 'big six' energy companies, the French-owned EDF Energy kept tight lipped on whether it would follow suit. It told the Financial Times EDF 'keep[s] its prices under constant review'.

Now it has announced an 11% price hike, effective from 7 December - the biggest of all!

As the table below indicates the 'big Six' companies are all hiking up prices by roughly the same amount and at roughly the same time.

The only exception is E.ON which has a price freeze for this year but may well announce price rises from January 2013.

Martin Lewis, of moneysavingexpert.com, tried to place a 1,000 bet that E.ON's price will announce or raise prices in January - the bet was refused!

This is price-fixing for maximum profit. The fact that many people will be weighing up whether to buy food or put the heating on is, at best, a secondary concern for these greedy companies.

If we were to bring these companies back under public ownership, and run them to meet the needs of society as part of a wider socialist economy, then we could fix a price for gas and electricity that would allow people to heat their homes and provide food for their family as a bare minimum.

The following figures show the average hike (G=Gas E=Electricity) for each energy provider

British Gas, G: +6% E: +6%, from 16 November
E.ON, Price freeze for 2012
EDF, G: +10.8% E: +10.8%, from 7 December
nPOWER, E: +8.8% G: +9.1%, from 26 November
Scottish Power, G: +7% E: +7%, from 3 December
SSE, G: +9% E: +9%, from 15 October

Our Marie Antoinette award

Once these winter price rises go through, the average household energy bill will have rocketed up by 812 since 2004.

Then the annual cost was 522 - now on average each household will be paying a record high of 1,334 a year by the end of 2012.

The Independent newspaper asked the big six companies: 'Why couldn't the 5% profits claimed by these companies be reduced to 3%?' One energy industry fat cat dismissed this, saying: "That would only cut average bills by around 30. What's the point?"

As the Independent commented, 30 is a lot of money when you have none to spare.

This fat cat looks favourite to win this year's Marie Antoinette 'let them eat cake' award. The 2008 winner was Jake Ulrich of energy giant Centrica who told people facing huge increases in bills that they should wear two sweaters to keep warm!

These companies have plenty of money without handing us these inflation-busting price hikes. They should never have been privatised in the first place - they should be renationalised and the energy industries run under democratic workers' control and management not by greedy fat-cat capitalists.

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In The Socialist 31 October 2012:


 

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