British Gas announced a 6% increase on gas and electricity on 12 October, which will add an average £80 per year to bills (Npower will increase the gas by 8.8% and electricity by 9.1%).
Energy companies blame the rises on declining North Sea gas supplies, rising global prices, and costs of maintaining the UK distribution network. The reality is somewhat different.
Last year British Gas announced profits of £1.5 billion. It supplies to around 9.5 million households so is making £160 a year profit per household.
So even if we take British Gas at face value about their rising costs, they could have absorbed them and still made £750m profit.
But it's not just British Gas ...
On 15 October, Scottish Power announced gas and electricity bills would go up by 7% in December. Scottish Power has 2.3 million customers – average fuel bill will rise by £100 per year.
Scottish Power made £1 billion in profits last year – this price rise will raise £230m – so just one-quarter of their profits!
This is the grotesque profiteering that has happened since our gas and electricity was sold off in the 1980s.
Last year British Gas put up gas bills by 18% and electricity bills by 16% - that’s how they made £1.5bn in profits.
We are being told we have to pay more so that the energy companies can invest in renewable energy, but this year, last year and every year for the last 25 years billions from our energy bills have been going to private shareholders’ dividends instead of into investing in the energy network.
We urgently need to invest in renewable energy. Sweden gets nearly half its energy needs from renewables, France is 12% and Germany around 10%. In Britain it’s less than 3%.
A large reason for us lagging behind the rest of Europe is that energy companies have been siphoning every penny they can - and successive governments have done nothing to stop them.
So what can you do? Support Fuel Poverty Action's day of action on Saturday