Energy prices: Gordon is no Robin Hood

I’m not a great one for politics or politicians, even though my late grandfather was one, God rest his soul. But I’m getting a bit fed up with the way the government and its media spin keep raising people’s frugal hopes only to dash them again.

Is it me or do we keep being tantalised by the hint that something good is going to happen, that people who are struggling will receive a windfall, only to find out that this is hogwash? OK, so the cynics among us may have second guessed this already, but it’s still a disappointment.

When rumours began to abound that the government was considering a stamp duty holiday to kick-start the housing market, I dared to dream it was true. But when I spotted a unidentified flying object outside my window answering to the name of Piglet, I quickly shook myself out of my reveries. What a lot of codswallop.  Alistair Darling et al generate so much revenue from stamp duty on property sales that it’s impossible any major change would be implemented. It was bound to be a little meaningless tinkering, that’s all. And what did they announce this week? Oh yes. Stamp duty is to be suspended for a year for first time buyers on properties between £125,000 and £175,000. Of course, if you live in the South East, South West or Northern Ireland you’ll be lucky to find one. Although, hopefully it may make a difference to those in Scotland, the North, the Midlands and Wales. But it’s hardly going to save the housing market, is it?

Then the story circulated that utility companies would be subject to a gritty windfall tax on profits from soaring energy prices. Oh yes. The money would be diverted to help people struggling to pay their fuel bills. An image of Gordon Brown in green tights aiming a bow and arrow at the Sheriff of Nottingham entered my head. I almost choked on my cereal…

Rumours were that the payments could be as much as £150. Today, of course, we know better. The government, which has been busy talking to the utilities, isn’t considering a windfall tax at all. It’s more interested in getting poor people to lag their lofts instead. Meanwhile dividend payments to lucky shareholders of the six energy majors are thought to have jumped by 19 per cent.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for loft lagging. Or even rat-shaped draught excluders. And as former stock market journalist I have nothing against company shareholders. But cold hard cash in people’s pockets is what’s needed right now. Might I suggest that instead of a windfall tax the government makes companies donate shares to its poorest customers! At least, that way they could make good use of these nice dividend payments.

On a lighter note, I did manage to surprise Lexi, our chicken, in the end and give her a bath and spa treatment for the stuck egg. Here are the photos to prove it…!


Have a good weekend xxx Piper







What should be done to help people struggling to pay their energy bills? Do you think a windfall tax on energy companies is the answer? Are the utilities too greedy or are they being unfairly targeted? Leave a comment and let me know.

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18 Responses to Energy prices: Gordon is no Robin Hood

  1. Technogran says:

    And did the bath help with the stuck egg? You don\’t say! Don\’t keep me in suspense will you?  My energy prices are frozen until 2009. I am with British Gas for both and have enjoyed frozen prices from them for the last two or three years thank goodness!

  2. piper says:

    Hello Technogran!  Yes it did thanks. There\’s been no sign of the egg yet but she seems a lot happier and is eating and pottering around normally again thank goodness. Good for you on the gas front. Sounds like you made the right decision! xx

  3. andrew says:

    all ican think of is to many sheriffs of nottinghams not enough robin hoods always take from the poor and give to the rich. im on pay as you go for both my gas and electric. and pay more than mr loadsofmoney.

  4. Gary says:

    I have long held the belief that letting private corporates run essential utilities like gas, electric and water was a major NO NO. What Maggie and the Tories did in the 1980\’s was a criminal act of selling off the family jewels. Obviously whoever buys such gems will want a retrun on their investment and now they\’re getting it – wads of it, and at our expense. Essential utilites should be publicly owned. These greedy money-grabbers should be horse-whipped and forced into giving a windfall tax, then they should be stripped of their directorships and the companies brought back into the public ownership. (Do I sound a tad like a socialist? Well I\’m afraid I\’m not – but perhaps we should all consider it!?)

  5. Mark says:

    I definately think the utility companies are being greedy along with the oil companies and the government.It is the same story all the time the rich get richer and the poor just get walked all over.When is this government going to wake up and smell the air of dis-content from the voting public.I believe it is time to take a stand and vote for a vote of no confidence in labour,anyone know where we could start one.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Thank you for your article it is good.
    Yes the utility companies are very greedy and encouraged to be so by a government that does not care, is too weak to do the right thing and has no sense of social justice, treating the British people with disdain. Our own government????
    Our country now has become a place only for profit and nothing else, the more you make – you are very good. If it does not make an excessive profit – forget it. Old people, the disadvantaged do not matter because they can not make you rich. We have had this philosophy all the time from "Labour" who were once socialist and born of the working classes but now only look after their rich friends.
    Can we have a government in this country that will govern for the people, by the people ?- alas I think the time has gone and only greed prevails

  7. Christine says:

    Had the profits from our oilfields been invested in infrastructure for the future we would not be so dependent on imports for our gas and electricity supplies where we can be charged as much as the exporters choose because these are essential items for the country. Definitely a government failure to look after the country\’s best interests there. There\’s your proof that governments of all parties have no business sense at all which leads to the fact that they of course are unable to deal with businesses that wish to make a profit and have a commodity (in this case gas and electricity) which is basic to the way that society runs at present. Of course many people will be feeling the pinch of the rising price of essentials. Sometimes this is due to bad budgeting on the part of the person concerned (nope not everyone can manage their own money), sometimes it\’s due to other costs or running up debts on the plastic. Let\’s not blame the government for our own mistakes for goodness sakes – we do have to take some responsibility for ourselves. However people on pensions and people in receipt of benefits (unemployment, disability for instance) who don\’t have the income to deal with ever rising costs. These are the people who are urgently in need of help – followed by families with young children where the wage earner is on a low or minimum wage.Trouble is that the government has spent all it\’s money for years to come on goodness knows what and now has to borrow on the plastic rather the same as others are doing to make ends meet so has nothing in the bank to help us out. It\’s not a good example to the rest of us that government can\’t manage the budget is it?And before you all pick on me – I\’m sitting here with the rain outside coming down in torrents and a flood watch on the river in a woolly jumper and fleece instead of turning on the heating because I\’m looking after the pennies. Out of my basic state pension and pension credit I need to save up for a washing machine and to have some decorating done that I can\’t do myself (nope I am not any good at stripping wallpaper even when it\’s hanging off and I certainly can\’t hang the replacement stuff). I know exactly what the problems of a low income are thanks and don\’t think that any of the choices we will have at the next election will be much more use than a chocolate fireguard.

  8. Christine says:

    Oh and just a final thought – as many of our utilities are now foreign owned I\’m not sure that it is within the power of the government to buy back due to the cost. Not that I think that they be able to run them if they can\’t manage the budget as things stand. 

  9. Michael says:

    Your reference to Gordon Brown & Robin Hood would have been absolutely correct in the debacle over the 10pence tax issue,the difference being that, he robbed the poorest by doubling their income tax in one fiscal year & gave it to the better off,by way of a 2pence tax rate reduction election bribe.
    The above exercise was done to \’buy\’ the votes of those whose tax was reduced & the negative effects were \’calculated\’ to have impact "AFTER"the General Election that G Brown \’called off\’, the budget took effect & the proverbials hit the fan.
    Never mind,we have long memories,Gordon Brown can run,but he cannot hide,at least not for much longer.
     Gordon Brown has a typical \’Victorian\’ attitude to people who do not work,he has failed miserably not to \’MAKE\’ young people work & he stigmatises all of those not working through his policies that created the situation,of the one & half million jobs created he boast of,they are ALL paid for by taxpayers & council taxpayers,because they are all public sector jobs,which in future will have an enormous implications for the taxpayers in years to come. 
    As for the fuel issue,I have \’benefitted\’ from having a new boiler installed under the "Warm Front"scheme,BUT, any gains from this have ALREADY been eclipsed by substantial increases in gas & electricity prices,which of course,like other previously nationalised companies,these excessive profits only benefit shareholders.
    If Brown thinks the public are stupid,then he\’s made one big mistake after another,these companies cannot justify these increases through arguing that they are needed for \’investment\’reasons,because the public know that these companies shareholders are not \’investing\’,this money for \’investing\’comes from consumer price increases.
    Look at water companies,every year they charge enormous sums for infrastructure renewal, but do you ever see any work of this nature being done?
    If we had regulators worth their salt,they would investigate the annual \’Capitlisation\’ increases in the value of these companies through the extensive subsidiary company purchases made with profits paid for by their customers,perhaps they would then be a bit more cautious about aggreeing on price rises,lets hope the Tories shut these Quango\’s down when they get in power.
    Before the government falls at the next election, it should redeem itself from it\’s \’business friendly\’ image & do something for the working poor of this country,the huge gap between rich & poor has widened greatly under Gordon Brown,he & \’New Labour\’, like \’Old Labour\’ will become history,there will be no more \’resurrections\’ in future.  

  10. terry says:

    how many eldery will be sitting here literally worrying themselves sick over cost of energy bills, these people would rather freeze than use their heaters for fear of a big bill they cant pay, most have worked all their lives some have fought for this country they should be entitled to at least 50 % discount on fuel bills and the feul companies can certainly afford it. 

  11. Melanie says:

    Your post highlighted just about everything that is wrong with the Labour government. The richest people in the country are only something like 10% of the population, if even that, but they seem to be the ones the government care about the most. I find it amusing that the government wants people to spend money on insulating their homes in the middle of an economic crisis. Sure, in the long term, you\’ll save money. But with food and transport costs skyrocketing, who\’s even thinking of the long term? Less people than a year ago are saving money. And those who are saving are putting in less than half of what they used to save. It doesn\’t take a genius to figure out that loft-insulation is not the answer!

  12. Tom says:

    Yes you re absolutely right. Its as though this lot actually want to lose the next election. They don t give any assistance to anyone on a low income. Theres people working full time who at the miserly level of the minimum wage are really struggling. Unless you re on benefits theres no meaningful help at all. I think your idea of compelling energy companies to give away shares is an excellent one. Utilties are a basic infrastructure which its inappropriate to run at a profit. Theres also a perverse incentive for energy companies to get us to consume more of their product. Which is a conflict of interest against saving energy.I no longer vote and I ve stopped buying newspapers. I don t want to listen to any more lies and spin all politicians, whether they re Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, Green Party, BNP whatever are gangsters. Shoot the *****n lot of them.

  13. Ace says:

    As always the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, nothing the government does surprises me.Too busy voting on giving themselves pay-rises instead of taking care of people who are stuggling to even LIVE.My advice to everyone would be to not even give the government your time of day, thoughts, or even votes.The system is broken, always has been and always will be.Nice chickens by the way lol 🙂

  14. Chris says:

    Doubtlessly you are right about the government.  But your comment about the housing market annoyed me.  "it may make a difference to those in Scotland, the North, the Midlands and Wales"  so basically most of the UK then!  I take it you live in London, so the rest of the UK is just a coincidental land mass to you.  That\’s one of the problems with this govnt – they don\’t seem to realise that England expands further than the Home Counties.  For the record I live in Birmingham.

  15. Jane says:

    Even when on benefits there is no help whatsoever.  My husband is physically disabled and needs to have extra heating during the winter months, but because he is under 65 doesn\’t qualify for the £200 heating allowance each year.  He can\’t even afford to fill his vehicle to get about independently, public transport isn\’t adequate enough at the moment.  It is about time these utility and petrol companies gave something back to their customers and alot less to the greedy shareholders!!!

  16. Francis says:

    We are told that the Oil companies do not make money from diesel and petrol. NOT US GUV.
    We only make vast profots from chemicals and industrial products. 
    The so called government accept this.
    Gordon Brown is as thick as two short planks!

  17. brian says:

    the tory goverment sold the countries utilities for short  term gain if they had not the profits they are making would be going into the treasury for us all.  

  18. littlemisstrouble says:

    If the governments got any money to spare either from windfall tax, increased vat receipts or whatever I\’d rather see it spent on long term solutions, such as alternative sustainable energy supplies.  We\’re in for a tough decade and theres no getting away from it whoevers in power.  We\’ve known this was coming one day and we\’ve all stuck our head in the sand thinking it wouldn\’t be in our lifetime.  I think we all need to reasess how we live and treat energy as the precious resource that it now is.  The best we can hope for is to provide our children and future generations the means to renewable energy.  While it would benice to have cash help towards fuel bills it might as well be paid straight to the energy companies as it just gives them a reason to put bills up even more.  I\’m not sure price regulation would be a good thing as the law of economics appolies and oil companies will just sell to other countries willing to pay higher prices.  The only way prices will go down is to reduce demand and we can only do that by using alternative sources and wasting less energy

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