November 8, 2011


Bill Esterson


Energy prices are up by 20% this year, and nearly 50% over the last four years. According to research published by OFGEM week, the average duel fuel bill is now £1,345 per household. Energy companies have seen their profits soar in the last six months – with their margin increasing from £15 per customer per head in June to £125 now. 


The Government answer to rising energy bills is to tell consumers to use a price comparison website, That might be a partial answer for some people but it certainly wont help many vulnerable elderly or disabled people on low incomes who don’t have access to a computer and who wouldn’t know how to use a price comparison website. The Conservatives and Lib Dems in the Government say it is  the people who are to blame for high energy prices for not shopping around enough.


But the Government held an Energy Summit where they failed to challenge the practices, pricing and structure of the energy market, which needs urgent reform.


The Tory-Lib Dem Government is making things worse, not better, by cutting support for some of the most vulnerable people in our society when they most need help.


I believe we should stand up to powerful vested interests in the energy industry and come up  with plans to provide real help to people this winter, as well as reform the way our energy market works for the long-term. My Labour colleagues in parliament are calling for:


·         An investigation into the mis-selling of energy and compensation for consumers who have been ripped off,


·         simple and fair tariffs,


·         transparency on trading data,


·         reform of the energy market to break the dominance of the Big Six energy companies,


·         the use energy companies’ soaring profits to help families and businesses with rising energy bills now


Many people have installed solar panels as one way to combat soaring energy prices. The Feed-in tariff scheme was brought in by the Labour Government to help people with lower costs and to help them sell surplus electricity generated by their solar panels back to the grid. The Conservative-Lib Dem government has suddenly announced changes, which will cause chaos in the solar industry and affect tens of thousands of jobs. 


Mark Davenport from Maghull set up Trusted Solar to take advantage of the Feed-in Tariff scheme. Mark was given six weeks' notice that the scheme would be cut. This means Mark will potentially lose his investment and will not now be able to create the jobs he planned. Brian Porter from Formby has a similar story about the changes. This is bad news for consumers and for jobs and the economy in Sefton. Solar panels will only be affordable for the well-off and will be the preserve of the few not the many thanks to the Conservative-Lib Dem government.


The public are crying out for Government leadership and a plan for jobs and growth – when all they get is the Government caving in to the vested interest of the energy giants; and casting a huge shadow over jobs and investment in the UK.”


I finally had an answer from the Government about Crosby Coastguard. The staff drew up plans to have the national Maritime Operations Control Centre at Crosby at a fraction of the cost of building a new one in Southampton. I asked one Government Minister if he agreed that the government should look at the plan from Crosby Coastguard as it saves money. He agreed with me. Unfortunately a different government minister has now written to me to say that the government has already decided to build the new centre in Southampton. I am afraid that means the end for Crosby Coastguard Station. 


More than 51,000 people signed the petition in favour of keeping the coastguard at Crosby. It seems that the Conservative-Lib Dem government has made up its mind and that it will close Crosby despite all the evidence about how busy the Port of Liverpool is, about how many people visit the beaches and about the need to keep vital local knowledge. The decision will put lives at risk and it now seems that it will not save money either. 


You have to wonder what political reasons there are for closing the Crosby Coastguard and what the people of Merseyside have done to offend the government.

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