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

Jan 04 2007

Shocking new figures expose true extent of muggings on teenagers

Young people face grim risk of being mugged for mobiles and MP3 players

Councillor Bob Blackman, expressed concern at new figures which have exposed the true extent of youth-on-youth crime. The shocking statistics were obtained by Conservatives under the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Across the country, a third of all muggings last year were on 11-16 year olds. They are seen as easy targets by muggers seeking mobile phones and MP3 players. In turn, 11-16 year olds were responsible for 40 per cent of all robberies.
  • The Government, despite claiming street crime is a top priority, does not properly monitor the level of youth muggings.
  • There were a projected 113,000 robberies on 11 to 16-year-olds last year across England & Wales. This is equivalent to over 600 muggings a day for each of the 195 school days.

Bob Blackman remarked,

“These new statistics reveal a worrying area of crime that has gone unrecognised. This is likely to be the tip off the iceberg given how few crimes are actually reported.

“Secondary school students and their parents will immediately recognise the picture of life these crime figures paint. Having mobiles and ipods routinely stolen, being marched to the cashpoint, seeing their friends mugged – this is the everyday life for too many of (area’s) teenagers.

“Youth-on-youth crime could be a serious long-term problem and the Government are not properly monitoring it. I believe young people have a right to expect violent crime against them to be taken seriously by this Government.”

Notes to Editors

Statistics were compiled from a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to individual police forces about robberies by Conservative youth spokesman, Justine Greening MP.

  • 40 per cent of all muggers (offenders detected for ‘personal robberies’) were aged 11-16 in 2005-06 in England and Wales.
  • In total, of the police forces which responded and provided comparative figures, 23,698 muggings on 11-16 year olds were recorded by the police last year – equivalent to 122 school children recorded as mugged every school day.
  • The British Crime Survey (based on interviews of people), estimates that only 21% of robberies are actually reported to the police (Home Office, Crime in England and Wales 2005/06, Table 4.01).
  • This would suggest that actual muggings on 11-16 yr olds last year could be as high as 113,000 in the areas which responded. This suggests over 600 muggings every school day.

Some police authorities refused to provide the information.

Police force (2005-06) 

Total personal robberies reported 

Number of personal robberies reported on 11-16 yrs  

Estimated number of actual offences on 11-16 yrs (assuming under-reporting rate of 21%) 

Victims aged 11-16 yrs as % of total recorded personal robberies 

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