As we near the verge of an era where fossil fuels may run out, energy companies tell us that the cost of fuel – especially gas – is likely to only go one way.
However, all governments, including the UK Government, must know and realize that the subsequent increase in bills is unsustainable because people are already unable to pay their bills.
Whilst we have heard talk over the past 20 years about the ‘classless society’ and removing barriers between people from different background, the reality is that middle England is stretched and the gap between the poorest and the middle is wider. Those with the most – millionaire and the financially independent – couldn’t be further removed from most people (99%/1%).
Families with two parents working full-time are finding it hard to make ends meet, and the presence of payday loans etc proves that, for millions of people, their earning alone are not enough.
There are global systematic economic problems, some of which have been created by the greed and corruption of people in companies, banks, government and politics. However, some come down to more fundamental flaws with our type of economics. This has a top-down effect, and we all saw how the false belief in the prosperity of the boom during the noughties led to over-inflated house prices, extortionate rents and high credit spending.
There are, though, problems that are specific to the UK. Though countries share some problems, every country is different and has its own unique financial and economic problems. In the UK, for example, we pride ourselves on our free-for-all NHS (though some might argue otherwise on that point). However, that comes at a cost and this is where the dilemma begins.
I believe that our economic system (and to a degree capitalism) is outmoded. The world has moved on and the population has sky-rocketed. We trade globally and enjoy global communication. We have the ability to send money around the globe at the click of a button and can enjoy video calls/chat with relatives in far away countries via the internet. But although our trading systems, methods and economies have modernised, the underlying foundations were never conceived for such a time.
This has lots of problems and implications but that’s not what I am actually writing about in this post.
One of the problems of Government, I find, is that it is often short-sighted. Their main horizon is their term in office – or possibly two terms. Of course, there are some issues where they have to look beyond that. But overall, this is not the case and it is a fundamental problem of government in my opinion, especially when they fail to plan for growth and sustainability
The same failure of identifying problems and the lack of foresight is occurring with energy companies. Many people in low-paid work or living on benefits (for whatever reasons) simply cannot afford to pay their energy bills. This problem is starting to grow and the energy companies should do something to tackle this now before it gets worse and puts thousands or millions of people into debt.
There is also a problem with the way in which energy is billed for certain people. For example, many severely disabled people HAVE to use more gas and electricity.
This might be because they have extra, special or medical equipment at home, have extra and significant washing to do every day. However, the main reason that many face much higher bills is that they are at home far more than if they were able to work or get out and about. That could be anything from 25-60+ hours more. This is extra usage that they HAVE to use because they are stuck in their homes. They use more because they have to, not through choice.
Now, above this obvious, such as they have to stay warm and eat, extra washing, equipment etc, I also think it would be unreasonable to suggest that someone who is severely disable should just sit at home and do nothing. If their only source of enjoyment is watching television or listening to music or surfing the web, I do not think they should not do those things for fear of a bill being higher.
Severely disabled people, like anyone with a disability, long-term illness or condition, did not choose to be that way.
In many cases I have seen with people this year, their extra usage through disability means that they face bills they simply cannot pay.
They do not get any extra financial help for paying for the extra usage – so where are they supposed to get the money from?
It cannot be right that a severely disabled person, unable to work and struggling on meagre benefits, gets a higher bill than a person earning £60,000 per annum. I have seen this myself this year, with a number of disabled friends.
There are two people I have in mind; one has a disabled daughter too. They spend most days and weeks at home, as getting out is really hard, and also have extra consumption due to some special equipment they have to have at home. They have had extra insulation fitted and have had some changes to their home that their supplier suggested.
The other chap (a now mutual friend, his wife works also) has a family. I am pleased to say they are all fit and well but they are hardly ever at home. He has more children and a much bigger home but because they do not spend as much time at home, their bills are a lot less – almost three times less.
This cannot be right.
I think energy companies need to tackle this problem head on now before prices go up more and the situation gets worse and puts disabled people into a situation where they can neither afford to pay off their debt or usage. Another billing method is needed for this group of people. It cannot be right for these companies to charge severely disabled people for extra usage they have no say in using.
If we step back and consider, what will happen in the future? When prices go up again, who is going to be hit the hardest? Who is going to feel the price increase more? Who is going to be more adversely affected? Who might be potentially put at risk?
Energy companies must have foresight and policy on this. This needs addressing by the energy companies.