Nights draw in and bills rise
IT’S THAT time of year again. Nights drawing in, here clocks soon to go back, patient central heating on and, bang, up go energy bills. First Southern Electric with its nine per cent rise on Monday with British Gas and the others following.
The industry knows that its credibility is on the line. Labour leader Ed Miliband has placed the rising cost of those essentials — heat, light and power — right at the top of the political agenda.
The “big six” suppliers have promised to clean up their act by making bills easier to understand and that is welcome. But at a time when there are ominous rumblings about rising food bills, it will come as grim news for most families that another of their unavoidable costs will be going up as Christmas approaches.
The suppliers argue that they have to make respectable profits to fund the vast investment needed in new power stations and energy infrastructure. And there is much truth in that. Their problem is that a legacy of doorstep mis-selling,
poor customer service and indecipherable billing means that trust in energy companies is little higher than in banking. They are working hard to put that right and it’s true that many of the costs they face are beyond their control, some of them imposed by government. The new “face” of trade body Energy UK — Angela Knight — likes a challenge: she previously led the British Bankers’ Association. It’s going to be a tough gig.