Maybe he has heard that people are worried that they will freeze to death this winter, particularly, if as forecast, it's another very long, very cold one.
NPower and British Gas have generously pledged not to hike prices again this year. Since, however, we are half way through October and there are only about 11 weeks left in the year, this is not a huge comfort to people who have seen their bills rise by up to 19% (Scottish Power) in the last few days. SSE has promised that prices will not rise again until August 2012, which is at least a relief.
Phil Bently , managing director of British Gas... (more appropriately named Laughing Gas), said that because Britain had to import 50% of its gas on an international market, prices would continue to go up, as there was more and more competition for the gas supplied by Russia and the Middle East. Our friends in the Middle East, whom we seem to 'help' at the drop of a hat, are selling vast amounts to Japan....That's gas that used to come to Britain. Maybe the Yen is preferable to the Pound.
Of course there are vast amounts of gas in the North Sea, but not nearly enough is produced for the whole of the UK (although far more than enough for Scotland).
What can the government do? Well, it's hampered a little by the fact that some oil and gas people contribute handsomely to the Tory coffers, and no one bites the hand that feeds it. (Having said that Danny, the bright boy of the London Treasury, put a massive tax on oil exploration in Scotland, presumably in order that they would be discouraged from making more vast finds, thus giving even stronger wings to aspirations of an independent Scotland .)
They might like to start by appointing an Energy Minister who lived on the same planet as we do.
Huhne recently lectured us that all we had to do was change supplier and hey presto all our problems would be solved. That is until someone from Earth pointed out to him that it wasn't that easy to do; that companies put all sorts of difficulties in your path; that finding a tariff to suit you was a job for MENSA members, and that once you had managed to surmount all that you would still probably receive demands from the last company and threats to cut off your supply, despite all protestations that you no longer dealt with them, until (as my mother did) you get a solicitor's letter to demand that they cease and desist!
Mr Cameron has said that the best way to reduce bills is to simplify the means of changing supplier and to encourage people to waste less power. So, it's your fault, consumer, for heating rooms in a wing of your stately pile that you only use when you are hosting a shooting party or having people down for the weekend!
People who don't have both electricity and gas lose out by having to pay bigger bills because they don't get a duel fuel discount, surely something could be done to stop that situation. Many deals are only available on line, putting at a disadvantage people who don't have internet access. Maybe Mr Huhne doesn't know that such people exist. That should be outlawed while there are still vast numbers of poorer and older people who have no internet access.
People who prepay their electricity pay over the odds for it (again the poorest) and those who cannot set up a direct debit (simplest bank accounts for the poor) also pay more. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
What they really need to do is strengthen the powers of the useless Offgen, to take on the almost cartel situation of the big 6 energy suppliers, some of which are owned by companies based outside the UK.
They need to ensure that the sick and the elderly are protected against these rises which in that one case was 4 times the rate of inflation (and thus of benefit increases).
They need to restore the winter fuel payment to old people.
THAT'S THE ONE THAT, PRIOR TO THE ELECTION, THEY PROMISED, ABSOLUTELY PROMISED, THEY WOULD NOT REDUCE
And why can't the British Government simply do what the French government (or the French President who is looking for another 5 years in the Elysée) has done. Just tell them 'NO' or in their case 'NON'.
No more rises for a year, no questions, no arguments. 'End of' (or 'fin de'), as some people irritatingly say.
Every winter in the UK thousands of people die of cold related illness. Unless this winter is very mild, sub tropical, that figure will increase. There is no excuse. Comparable figures in far colder countries put the UK to shame.
Get it sorted, Huhne. Do something about it now before you have deaths on your hands.
A year of energy price rises
|Month 2010-11||Company||Price rise|
SOURCE: COMPANY ANNOUNCEMENTS
Gas: 2% Elec: 8.9%
Scottish & Southern
Gas: 7% Elec:7%
Gas & Elec: 5.1%
Gas: 3% Elec: 9%
Gas: 6.5% Elec: 7.5%
Gas: 19% Elec: 10%
Gas: 18% Elec: 16%
Scottish & Southern
Gas: 18% Elec: 11%
Gas: 18% Elec: 11%
Gas: 15.7% Elec: 7.2%
Gas: 15.4% Elec: 4.5%
(Table from the BBC page linked in first paragraph above)