Today's Observer reports that the energy watchdog, OFGEM, will this week criticise the UK government for its failure to stop energy companies from making excessive profits at the expense of consumers. As usual, its the poorest who pay the most, with households on pre-payment meters paying on average 20% more for fuel than direct debit customers. Energy bills have rocketed in recent years and this article claims that the energy suppliers have creamed off huge profits while using the inflated price of oil as an excuse for those rises. It goes on to make a good argument for the public ownership of utilities. Fuel is, after all, a basic necessity.
Numbers of people living in fuel poverty continue to increase with official figures almost doubling between 2004 and 2006 to nearly 250,000 homes. I've previously called for an increase in the Winter Fuel Allowance and its extension to cover other vulnerable groups and I will be raising a question about growing fuel poverty with the First Minister this Tuesday. I'll keep you posted.