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Energy & Utility Companies should never have been put in private hands. If they now demand public money to keep the greed train afloat, it’s time to hand them back

September 20, 2021 Leave a comment

Over the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years too, the impact of a twisted and flawed political system being prevalent in this country – not just for the past eighteen months, or even eighteen years, but for much longer than that – is going to become ever more apparent as all the ridiculous and self-serving decisions that generations of politicians from all sides have taken finally and potentially catastrophically unwind before our eyes.

Decisions on Public Policy aren’t and haven’t been made for any of the reasons that they should be. Decisions have been based on the irresponsible and impractical view of what could be rather than having any relationship with what is and today, we face the horrific situation where people who have already been squeezed for years by a system that is stacked in the favour of perpetuating greed may be on the verge of being left without even the basic necessities which are essential to everyday life. All because the people who have been masquerading as public representatives aren’t capable of letting priorities like considering the long-term consequences of what they do for others get in the way of what serves them and the Political Parties they represent best.

The last thing that families on very tight incomes across the UK will be wanting to see on the news channels on a Monday morning are stories that suggest that prices of electricity and gas are about to escalate so dramatically, that they really could go out sight.

The last thing that we all need is the prospect of our gutless politicians looking to take the easy way out of what might be about to become a very serious energy crisis by using yet more created public money bailing out what are private and profit-hungry companies that should never have been able to dictate the cost of services for public consumption that everyone needs, and which are essential to life.

But we are where we are. And we are currently stuck with the same politicians, with the same ideas and the same lack of vision that continually hurts us, being in charge of dealing with this crisis too.

The obsession with control and the endless focus on trying to deal with the ‘what ifs’ that this political culture has is causing us endless problems.

The question over energy companies today is just one of many that are about to come to light where we will need leadership with the vision and commitment to where solutions need to take us, that steps away from the flawed idea that using money for everything can forever prevent there being any pain to the public – and therefore never any electoral pain to the politicians who are involved.

The BIG way to deal with all the problems that are now coming to the surface will be to use the opportunities that these problems create, to review everything on the table, fix the problems and then rebalance the whole system so that it serves everyone and the public interest in the best way possible – the way that is fundamentally right.

The siren call to our shameful Government will be the what if of what happens if power and heat is lost this winter, and many people then go without. That will probably be all it will take for Johnson and Co to get the cheque book out.

The energy companies will tell the Government that without a cash injection, they are likely to go bust. But these are the same companies that have been making record profits when energy prices have been low. But the reality is that just because they collectively have a monopoly and therefore a strangle hold on what is actually public service provision, it doesn’t therefore follow that they are entitled to always make a profit – even when the weather for them is bad, and the sun really will not shine.

Services that exist for the public good, which provide those things essential to the provision of the fundamentals of what it takes to live happily, healthily and safely with the basic essentials of life, should never be placed in private, profit-making hands. Man can only have one master and when any company is privately owned, it is clear that profit – not public service – is the one and only overriding choice – no matter what stories they tell.

Perhaps the greatest threat to finding solutions to widespread social and economic problems is the obsession that politicians and commentators have with political ideologies and ridiculous arguments against taking certain courses of action, simply because of who made the suggestion and whether it has electoral implications.

All they should be doing is asking the simple question is it right and will it do all that it is supposed to do.

If the energy companies want to go bust, the Government must let them. Then they must take those companies and the public services that they provide back into public hands.

This is not a matter of left vs right or socialist vs capitalist politics. It’s a question of doing what’s fundamentally right.

We must use the very bad situation that we are all about to experience to rebalance a system that will otherwise continue to be unjust, hindering normal people when it should only ever exist to help them. What we have today is completely mad.

The Energy Rip-Off: Profit for most businesses is a benefit and neither a right nor the result of monopolistic guarantee. Energy Companies should be no different to other businesses and fixing prices or imposing a windfall tax is not the first step to help those where help is needed most

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

images (42)John Major’s intervention on energy price rises certainly shows just how much of an issue the Political Parties now realise it is. But a windfall tax won’t help the people who really need that help the most and could in fact make things a whole lot worse if politicians don’t start to become a little more imaginative and thoughtful about what they now do.

N-Power were the latest of the Energy giants to announce their next jaw-dropping price hike yesterday and at 10.4%, it’s the biggest one of this season so far. But such price rises aren’t new and whilst its perfectly feasible that prices will now be loaded at every opportunity over the next 18 months to counter Ed Milliband’s very plausible threat of an anachronistic reemergence of socialist Government, the real problem is that the Energy giants collaboratively control a monopoly which politicians either fail to understand or otherwise have no desire to address.

These are after all Companies who have grown used to using excuses such as green levies, wholesale energy prices and the costs of infrastructure replacement to justify these continually upward and exponential rises, whilst their profits remain strangely, yet comfortably in tact – a situation that almost any business which offers a product which is bought only by choice could simply never hope to achieve as their market simply wouldn’t sustain it.

It really should come as no great surprise for politicians at any level that imposing a windfall tax will do little more than supply yet another opportunity for these unharnessed Companies to raise prices and inadvertently maintain profit levels in a situation that no privately owned company with this kind of responsibility to the public should ever be able or allowed to guarantee for private shareholders.

The lack of real-world understanding within the political classes is most evident when they repeatedly fail to address the lack of empathy and social responsibility that such parts of the corporate and financial worlds possess and which is increasingly manifesting itself through the price rises and blatant profiteering they undertake. Let’s make no mistake; it cries out for a level of intervention that Government seems strangely unwilling to take – or in Labour’s case, seems completely devoid of any reality when it comes to reigning in the activities of operational and service providing businesses.

Further taxation will not help people who are struggling to make ends meet in any way. People on increasingly squeezed incomes actually need prices to fall if wages are not going to go up and whilst a freeze in prices might sound good, these very same people really don’t need to experience the drop in temperature that will come if the energy supplies are turned off as a result of Red Ed seeing this quixotic plan through to fruition.

Before anything, the Energy companies need to be given the opportunity to change their approach and stop treating the UK Energy Market as a cash cow. It isn’t, and they will struggle to find anyone amongst us who believes that repetitive price rises of around 8-10% are both genuine and also peculiar to services which people simply must have when in today’s economic climate every other area of business basically has to justify each and every penny of a notable price rise.

If the Energy Companies won’t respond to such an opportunity, Government must then seek to regulate the profit margins which these Companies can achieve, whilst ensuring that every ‘hidden’ route to obtaining profit through re-routing costs and finance by such methods as creative accounting, overseas holdings and charges to ‘other businesses’ are stopped. It might take a lot of work, but this is what politicians have been elected to do on our behalf and what we have every right to expect of them.

There is of course an argument made by some for re-nationalisation of previously privatised industry too. But this also has to be put in context with an acceptance that the UK purse has already been stretched way beyond irresponsible terms and that the dream of a return to an age of unionised control and stagnation within vital services would be little more than the replacement of one small set of people benefitting from one form of misery for the masses with another.

Competition in its truest form is however another thing and with an emphasis on social enterprise as a way of tackling the Energy price problem, there is absolutely no reason why the Government or even the more Localised forms of it couldn’t set up, run or sponsor the development of non-profit making energy companies which are run on commercial lines and open up the market in a much more diverse and genuinely free-market-based way. The results could be quite surprising.

Whatever the politicians come up with it must work for the public and industry at large; not just for the Energy companies and shareholders, and certainly not just for the politicians themselves as they look for their next result in 2015.

We now need a new and gutsy kind of politics which addresses all the needs that we have by tackling them all head on and with proper regard of the implications for all along with all other areas of Policy.

It’s time that politicians started to think about changing the rules, rather than continually romanticising over possible poll results. Throwing sound bites at the media that will never really deliver for people who need help the most is not the place to start.

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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