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We need action, not warm words, to bring down energy bills

[29/10/2011 | No comment]

With the nights drawing in and the weather getting colder, people are switching their heating on – and worrying about the cost of their gas and electricity bills.

Energy charges are up a staggering 20 per cent this year. The average annual dual fuel bill is now £1,345 per household, which means energy bills are now one of the single biggest outgoings people face. With food prices going up as well, many of my constituents are wondering how they are going to afford to heat their homes, pay for the weekly shop and find money for Christmas too.

Energy company profits have soared in the last six months. Ofgem, the energy regulator, says the profit margins of energy companies have increased from £15 per consumer in June to £125 now. The Government should be standing up to the “Big Six” energy companies, who provide our gas and electricity, to help reduce prices now and reform the way our energy market works for the long-term.

Instead, the Government is telling people it’s down to them alone: that they should just shop around, get a better deal, and then switch their energy supplier. Of course it makes sense for people to try to get the best deal, but the Government doesn’t seem to understand how hard it can be to figure out what the real costs will be for your home, or to compare one company’s deal with another.

One way to cut energy bills would be to require the “Big Six” to pool their energy centrally. Any company could then buy and supply energy from this pool. This would allow new businesses into the market, increase competition and drive down costs for the 80 per cent of people who currently pay too much for their bills.

In these difficult economic times we need tough action, not this Government’s warm words, to help bring down the cost of energy bills.

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