Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/536/4181
Cosmetic measures against fuel poverty
THE GOVERNMENT'S plan, announced last week, to tackle fuel poverty doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
Some 2.5 million households are in fuel poverty - defined as those paying 10% or more of their income on fuel bills. Under the plan, the government will hand over personal details of low-income families to energy supply companies to provide tariff advice.
Apart from the worrying issue of data protection, these plans will not address the unfairness of those on low incomes typically having to pay around £140 a year more using pre-paid meters, compared to those paying quarterly bills or by direct debit.
Also, how can people without a bank account switch to a cheaper tariff? And even if low-income customers do have a bank account, will they have sufficient funds in them to cover a quarterly or direct debit payment?
Help the Aged charity described the proposals as a "sticking plaster to hold back a catastrophe".
The government's announcement comes at a time when gas and electricity supply companies have been hiking up fuel prices and making billions in super-profits. These companies have also made a whacking £9 billion from the Emissions Trading Scheme, designed to curb greenhouse gases.
So will Gordon Brown impose a windfall tax? Unlikely. Better still, will Labour renationalise the utilities giants to provide low cost energy? Not a chance!
In The Socialist 3 June 2008:
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party youth and students
Environment: Nuclear power
International socialist news and analysis