Monday, November 22, 2010

Neil Clark: Paying the cost of Britain's Greedy Firms

This article by CPO co-founder Neil Clark appears in the Sunday Express

DID you think Britain was an expensive enough country to live in?

If so, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. Over the next few weeks things are going to get a whole lot worse… Take energy prices. On December 1, Scottish and Southern Energy, Britain’s second biggest supplier, is raising gas prices by 9.4 per cent. Ten days later British Gas is putting up its gas and electricity rates by seven per cent.

Household bills will go even higher from January 1 as VAT rises to 20per cent. Just what we need to get the New Year off to a good start.

....Then there’s train fares. Britain’s railways are already the most expensive in Europe and fares will rise again by as much as 10.8 per cent on some commuter routes from January.

Far from being a helpless bystander, there’s much the Government could do to alleviate the situation.

Regarding the railways and the utilities, the best solution would be to bring them back into public ownership. With no shareholder dividends to be paid, prices could be reduced to the European average, bringing relief to long-suffering commuters.

In Belgium, where railways are still owned by the state, fares are up to 20 times cheaper than in Britain. At weekends, prices actually drop by 50 per cent, making it easier for friends and families to visit each other.

Railways are a natural monopoly and it is much better for consumers if they are in public ownership.

You can read the whole article here.


Andy Armitage said...

Yes, a free market is fine while everything is a win–win situation. I realise that firms have to make money to pay salaries and plough some back into the business. But in the case of utilities it's clear that it's a win–lose situation, with the latter word applying to you and me. But of course the Tories (and NuLabour would be little or no better) want to ensure their pals in big business are nicely comfortably off, thank you very much (mutual back-scratching and all that). I was astounded when I saw the stat for Belgium's train fares, though I suppose I shouldn't be. This is, after all, rip-off Britain.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

And yet, despite these rip-off prices, a recent Radio 4 File On 4 revealed that many rail companies are deliberately pricing commuters out of the market as they cannot cope with demand. So what exactly are they investing all that profit in? Shareholders rather than improvements to service it would seem.