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We end up paying the bills for energy market chaos

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Issue 2774
The National Grid
The privatised National Grid (Pic: The National Grid)

When an energy firm goes under, every other household in Britain is left paying the cost for a new firm to take on its customers.

The company that takes on the failed firms’ clients is allowed to claim transfer costs of between £600 and £700.

They have the right to reclaim this money over 15 to 24 months from every energy customer in the country.

These costs are already significant—around £40 per customer on the basis of the firms that have failed already.

And they are likely to rise to around £90 if the firms that look most precarious cease trading in the coming days.

This £90 would be levied on top of massive rises in October and further increases next April in the energy price cap.

As so often under the regime of “free market” ­capitalism, the profits are ­privatised, the costs are “socialised” among ordinary people.

An energy supplier that collapsed last week leaving 580,000 customers in the lurch paid out £2.25 million to a company run by its two directors in the same year that it made a £28 million loss.

Avro Energy, whose directors are former ­footballer Jake Brown and Philip Brown, is one of six household energy suppliers that collapsed in September.

This meant 1.4 ­million ­customers moved onto another supplier and ­potentially higher tariffs as a result.

Avro Energy’s latest published accounts, for the year ending June 30,

2019, showed a £2.25 ­million payment to Sentido Marketing for “management charges”.

Sentido’s directors are listed as Jake Brown, Philip Brown and a third man, William Brown.

The company is classed as an advertising agency at Companies House.

No old school tie—no entry

George Osborne was laughing his way to the bank last week.

The newly reinvented investment banker won a big contract for his employer, advising a metals group founded by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Yet certain institutions remain unintimidated by his new riches, among them the Carlton Club, that bastion of old money in St James’s, London.

Upon arriving for Liam Fox’s 60th birthday at the members’ club on Thursday, he was barred from entry for failing to wear a tie.

This is why David Cameron and Boris Johsnon used to call him “Oik” in their Bullingdon club days.

Osborne went to the wrong school—St Paul’s not Eton—you see.

Work really is killing you

Work-related diseases and injuries were responsible for the deaths of almost two million people worldwide in 2016.

That’s according to recently released estimates from the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation.

The study says the majority of work‑related deaths were due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

The greatest causes of deaths were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (450,000 deaths), stroke (400,000 deaths) and ischaemic heart disease (350,000 deaths).

Occupational injuries caused 19 percent of deaths (360,000 deaths).

Workplace exposure to air pollution was responsible for 450,000 deaths.

Seven years in jail for bottle of fizzy drink

A homeless man faces up to seven years in prison after being arrested last month for underpaying the equivalent of 30p on a bottle of fizzy drink.

Joseph Sobolewski walked into a convenience store in Pennsylvania, United States, where there was a special offer on two bottles of Mountain Dew for $3.

He put $2 on the counter and left. But one bottle was $2.29.

After tax he had “stolen” 43 cents.

He is being held in jail awaiting trial unless he pays £36,500 bail and faces up to seven years in prison.

Sobolewski was first arrested more than a decade ago, when he drove off without paying after filling up with petrol.

In 2011 he was arrested for stealing a pair of shoes that cost less than £33.

Under Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law, no matter how small the third theft is, it carries a three to seven year sentence.

Bribe paying firm gives Tories money

A multinational oil firm, which was led by a major Tory donor, has admitted that its employees paid bribes to land contracts. And the company also used a range of top Conservative politicians as lobbyists.

The admissions by the firm Petrofac were to settle a four-year corruption and money laundering investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Petrofac said it was intending to plead guilty in court to seven counts of failing to prevent its employees from offering or paying bribes to secure Middle Eastern contracts between 2012 and 2015.

During those years, the firm was led by Ayman Asfari, who with his wife has donated almost £800,000 to the Conservative Party in a personal capacity.

David Cameron, after he had left Downing Street, lobbied the Bahraini royal family to persuade them to award a £3.65 billion oil contract to Petrofac in 2017.

Theresa May, while prime minister, and Liam Fox, while international trade secretary, also lobbied the Bahraini royal family to award the same contract to the firm.

The inaproriate Halloween costumes get earlier every year. One online boutique, is selling the “Once Again Asking Costume Set for £63, modelled after the Vermont senator’s 2021 Inauguration Day outfit”. As they put it “This Bernie Sanders inspired costume comes with a grey coat, cozy mittens, and a face mask for a total insta-worthy moment.”

There is “no clear end in sight” to HS2 costs and delays, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have said. The current estimated official cost of completing HS2 is between £72 billion and £98 billion at 2019 prices, compared with an original budget of £55.7 billion in 2015 at 2015 prices. An independent review by Lord Berkeley last year said it would end up costing over £115 billion.

Theys they say

‘There is plenty of fuel in this country but it is in the wrong place’

Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association

‘We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile… banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian… piece of scum’

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner makes a leadership bid

‘Angela and I take different approaches and that’s not language that I would use’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds that he is still here—­for now

‘Where has everyone m gone?”

A ‘close ally’ of Sir Keir Starmer in a Brighton bar for Labour Party conference

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