The Socialist 17 October 2012
Build a 24-hour General Strike
Stop the gas price hike - Nationalise the utilities!
The privately owned gas companies are going to hike up the price of gas and electricity...again!
The biggest energy provider, British Gas, is increasing its prices by an average of 6% - adding around £80 a year to our bills. Following this, four of the other 'big 6' energy firms followed suit with similar prices hikes. The only exception is E.ON which has a price freeze for 2012.
Someone on a salary of at least £1 million like Phil Bentley, the managing director of British Gas, will probably not even notice a 6% increase in his bills. But millions of working class people across the UK will be feeling the pinch.
Senior Manager for Age UK Redbridge, James Monger, said: "We are very disappointed by this latest increase. We know that deaths among the elderly increase as the weather gets colder and with people's savings being worth less than they were three or four years ago this is bad news."
Despite the claim of private companies and politicians of a 'free market' creating 'competition', gas and electricity is provided almost exclusively by the 'big 6'. Instead of competition, private ownership of the utilities has produced an 'oligopoly' - a small group of firms that act like a monopoly over a product or industry.
One of the key arguments parroted by energy bosses is that a rising price in wholesale gas has to be passed on. In 2008, when British Gas put up gas prices by a record 35% boss Phil Bentley claimed "we have entered an era of unprecedented high world energy prices."
But when wholesale prices fall, prices aren't dropped, meaning super-profits for top bosses and major shareholders. British Gas Residential announced profits of £345 million in the first half of the year - up 23% year-on-year.
Socialists argue for the utility companies to be nationalised, to be run as a public service for people's needs. Combined with investment in green energy this would lead to cheaper prices, jobs and a more efficient system.
In this issue
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist Party