Families will be forced to pay out a staggering £250bn to modernise Britain’s creaking water, gas, electricity and rail industries, a Teesside MP has warned.
Most of the massive cost of replacing the country’s ageing infrastructure is being added to household bills.
It means energy bills, which have already shot up, are set to increase by a fifth by 2030, on top of the effects of inflation.
Redcar MP Ian Swales was part of a Commons inquiry which looked at the way improvements to the nation’s utilities and transport networks were funded.
He warned that Government red tape was making it difficult for new businesses such as energy companies to get started – making it easier for the existing energy giants to charge sky high prices.
Speaking as MPs quizzed Government officials, he said: “Based on all the investors to whom I have talked – none of whom are the big six, which is an important point – we want to try to break the pseudo-monopolies.
“If we have people who want to invest, surely we should be making it as easy as possible for them.”
The so-called big six energy firms include E.On, EDF, SSE, Scottish Power, British Gas and Npower.
But Government rules made it almost impossible for new firms to enter the market, he said.
He urged civil servants in the Department of Energy and Climate Change to take action, telling one official: “In my constituency there are four potential power station investments right now, three of which are for fossil fuels.
“If you talk to all those investors, they will tell you that they feel like giving up because the system is almost impossible to deal with.”
The MP is one of the authors of a report which warns the UK is set to spend more than £375bn to replace infrastructure.
This includes replace assets such as rail track or waterworks which are simply too old; replace assets which don’t comply with EU regulation; introducing new facilities which cause less pollution, and catering for a growing population.
Around two-thirds of this will be paid for by private companies – but that really means consumers will pay through higher utility bills and rail fares, MPs said.
They warned: “Energy and water bills have risen considerably faster than incomes in recent years, and high levels of new investment in infrastructure mean that bills and charges are likely to continue to rise significantly.”
The Government should act by ensuring there is real competition, which would encourage companies to keep prices down, and in some cases by simply setting the prices consumers can be charged, MPs said.
Source – Sunday Sun, 06 July 2014
People in the North East are twice as likely to fear having to sleep rough next year if they can’t pay their bills than people in the south east, a survey has shown.
The stark contrast was revealed in a poll by St Mungo’s, which said one in five people, 21 per cent, in the north east fear they will have to sleep rough if they are unable to pay their household bills in 2014, compared to one in ten in the south east, 9 per cent.
Overall in Britain, more than half expressed concern about being able to pay their household bills – including rent and mortgage – with 13 per cent saying they were worried about having to sleep rough.
More than a third, 32 per cent, of people said they were concerned that they would not have the money or opportunity to find alternative accommodation and 29 per cent said they would not know where to turn to for help.
Charles Fraser, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘It is clear that people are trying very hard to keep their heads above water but are worried about going under. There are fewer life belts and less dry land than there was. We see no reason to believe that demand for our services will diminish in 2014.
‘While recognising that much good work is done for those in need, it is not a good time to be at the bottom of the pile. Those who are responsible for preventing homelessness need to discharge that responsibility better in order to prevent homelessness before it starts and help people before their health, their relationships and much more is lost.’
The ComRes survey, commissioned St Mungo’s, polled 2,028 people between 20- 21 of November.
Source – Inside Housing, 11 Dec 2013