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How to fight fuel poverty
MILLIONS OF the poorest people in Britain, particularly pensioners and benefit recipients are officially in fuel poverty, paying more than a tenth of their income on gas and electricity.
Many of them use prepay meters or weekly savings stamps rather than direct debit to pay for their fuel - but these are expensive to maintain and the companies pass the costs on to the consumers.
Over 3.5 million people pay more than they should do, according to the IPPR 'think tank'.
They call on the government to bulk buy the gas and electricity direct and deduct the charges directly from income support or pension credit payments, saving each person around £60 a year.
Well, £60 would doubtless help, but why not tackle the problem head on? The privatisation of water, electricity and gas by Thatcher's Tories, was nothing but a licence to print money for their fat-cat private 'owners'.
But Blair's government has kept these basic utilities in private ownership. What's more it has allowed gas bills to increase by 66% in two years while British Gas' owner Centrica unveiled record profits of over £4 million a day and electricity bosses such as Scottish Power announced they had raised their profit levels by 95% last month.
Why not start to tackle problems such as fuel poverty by taking the gas and electricity industries back into public ownership and running them under democratic control and management?
In The Socialist 13 April 2006:
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