By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2790

Energy bosses cash in as prices soar for millions

Energy price increases could force 6 million households into fuel poverty
Issue 2790
Shell boss Ben van Beurden

Shell boss Ben van Beurden won’t be worrying about rising bills (Pic: Shell International Limited photographic services)

A soaring rise in the cost of gas and electricity is set to be announced on Monday next week. The price cap that limits the cost for the average customer to £1,277 a year is expected to rise to close to £2,000.

It will mean a huge hit on ­people’s living standards and will push millions into real hardship. The National Energy Action charity says the increases could leave over 6 ­million households in fuel poverty across Britain.

That’s up from 4 million last October.

The price cap currently applies to around 22 million households. The resulting price rises will come into effect in April, just as a big hike in national insurance hits most ­workers’ wages.

But the Tories are sitting on their hands and at the start of this week had put forward no measures to hold back the surge in prices.

It was expected to tinker with the £140 a year warm homes discount, the winter fuel payment of up to £300, and the cold weather payment of £25 a week when the temperatures fall below freezing.

But these are small measures to cover a gaping need.

The Labour Party has urged the Tories to cut value added tax (VAT) on bills, but this would lower costs by just £90 a year.

The money’s there to slash bills. Energy firms are raking in obscene profits. Shell was set to reveal its profits on Thursday this week and BP next week.

Together they are expected to have grabbed £7 billion in profits in the last three months of 2021. That’s the equivalent of £900 a second.

Climate killer Shell will come out on top, making around £4.3 billion in three months. ITM Power will have netted around £13.5 billion in 2021.

Shell’s boss Ben van Beurden took £5.2 million in pay and perks in 2020, and nearly £70 million since he took charge in 2014.

BP will report profits of around £3 billion in the last three months of last year.

The company’s chief executive Bernard Looney was paid £1.7 ­million last year.

He described the company as a “cash machine” last November because of soaring commodity prices.

Profits for both companies have hit a seven-year high this year owing to the rising cost of crude oil.

And the money oil companies make could rise even further.

Some analysts predict the price of oil could rise to over £74 a barrel later this year, delivering a bigger payout to the fossil fuel firms.

Instead of millions of people ­suffering, the money to make sure there are no price rises should come from the oil and gas giants and the privatised energy firms. And they should all be taken back into ­democratic public ownership.

Increases hit the elderly

A survey conducted by charity Age UK found that nearly 24 percent of older people will have to choose between heating and food if energy bills rise substantially.

And another 54 percent said that they would be forced to heat their homes less.

One woman that was interviewed for the survey said, “I am currently in bed keeping warm today as it’s so cold and I can’t afford to have my heating on for the whole day.

“I’m reduced to showering on alternate days, which I hate, and I’m eating food that’s microwaveable to avoid heating my oven.”

Primary school teacher Kate Locke told the Guardian, “Since Christmas, my bills have gone up by £47 to around £110 a month.

“We use hot water bottles in the evening to avoid putting on the heating. My son was off school with Covid recently, and there was a real rise in bills—we shouldn’t have to worry about getting our children warm.”

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