Jan 05 2007

Calls to tackle ‘rip off’ gas bills and rising cost of living

Working people and pensioners finding it harder to make ends meet

As blustery weather moves into Britain, Councillor Bob Blackman Assemblyman for Brent & Harrow added his voice to calls to tackle the soaring cost of gas bills, and criticised the rising cost of living under the current Government.

Conservative leader, David Cameron, has recently highlighted the escalating rise in living costs under Labour, and called for an official Office of Fair Trading probe into the ‘rip off’ prices still being charged for domestic gas – despite recent falls in wholesale prices. A new web campaign has also been launched at www.sort-it.co.uk, highlighting ‘live for less’ tips on money-saving.

Bob Blackman explained.

“The cost of living is going up and this Government is making things worse. People across (area) are finding it harder to make ends meet. Those things that are under Government control, like tax, are going up. Meanwhile, when it comes to items not controlled by the government but where they could make a difference, like utility bills, they do nothing.

“For vulnerable groups, such as pensioners, who spend relatively more on council tax and energy bills, the cost of living is rising ever faster. And with inflation running higher than average pay rises, real take-home pay is falling. Conservatives are standing up for working people and pensioners – to keep the cost of living down and the quality of life up.”

Notes to Editors

Gas prices have risen by 71% since 2003. Electricity prices have risen by more than a quarter in the last year alone (source: Office for National Statistics). The average working family now pays £660 a year in gas and electricity, up from £460 just two years ago.

Despite falling wholesale prices, four gas companies increased their prices by 12.2% on 1 January, and British Gas are increasing prices on their Click website by 12.5% on 8 January.

Annual energy price inflation is almost twenty times that OECD average. Only Norway, New Zealand, and Hungary have higher energy price inflation (OCED statistics, 9 January 2007).

Conservatives have launched a campaign website to highlight the high cost of living, with tips on how to cut costs: http://www.sort-it.co.uk/

Released by: Bob Blackman

Date: 8th February 2007