Thursday, 23 August 2012

Another squalid housing rip off

The ConDem government has released a report on the housing shortage in the UK today. The Montague report advocates the relaxing of planning restrictions and permission, allowing private investors to build on public land, the relaxation of affordable housing criteria and a voluntary code for what constitutes a reasonably constructed home. It represents a sick joke to the 2 million families that cannot find permanent accommodation in the UK at present.

There is a major housing crisis developing in Britain that is not being addressed by the ConDem government or the Labour Party in opposition. The end of the property boom and cheap mortgages has left the vast majority of people unable to afford to buy. Deposits alone are likely to cost £50,000 in most parts of the country. Private rents are soaring as a result with the average now being £722 per month, far too high for most families to even consider saving towards a deposit. The myth of the aspirant working class that can benefit from a ‘property owning democracy’ has been evicted.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Another whopper from the energy monopolies

The energy giant SSE has started another round of fuel prices rises in the UK. It claims that it cannot 'absorb' costs any more so must increase gas and electricity prices by 9% from 15 October. This is despite the wholesale price of gas and electricity power falling in the first half of 2012. In the US, the fall has been between 38-45% while it has been up to 13% in Europe.

Further, these rises are not the first that have come in well above the inflation rate. Gas prices were increased by SSE by 9.4% in December 2010; in September 2011, it increased electricity prices by 11% and gas by 18%. After being forced to cap its prices because of the public outcry, it has now returned to its profiteering pattern. 

The energy market is rigged by the big companies which are profiteering. SSE reported a 2% rise in profits to £1.33 billion yet pretends that it cannot absorb cost rises that do not exist. Ian Marchand, its Chief Executive, was paid £1.1 million in the last year.The regulator, Ofgem has been investigating alleged attempts by the energy companies (including SSE) to overload the national grid with electricity, switch off power plants and wind farms then claim compensation from the taxpayer totalling over £600 million in the last five years. A scam.

Meanwhile, working class people continue to struggle with pay failing to keep up with inflation. People's living standards are collapsing even before the capping of housing benefit. The astronomical increases in energy costs are creating fuel poverty across the country as people can no longer afford to put electricity or gas on for more than a few hours per day. It will lead directly to more illness and death among the elderly. It is callous profiteering that has to be stopped.

Richard Lloyd, of the consumers' association Which?, told the BBC that "we can't go through another winter with people worrying about their energy bills, the government and the regulator must reform our broken energy market."

There certainly needs to be reform and urgently. These thieves represent everything that is wrong with this society. We have reached the point where most people find their bills unsustainable due to private monopolies being allowed to fleece us. It is another example, alongside the railways and banks, of how the private sector is not good for us. Asil Nadir has been prosecuted for stealing from his companies 25 years ago yet the present day robber barons are being allowed to plunder the UK with impunity. We need to stop this and put them behind bars