Andrew Smith MP

On your side in Oxford East

The Issue: Energy prices


"Should energy prices be frozen?"

Yes: Especially as the weather gets colder, energy bills are a big concern. Incomes aren't rising for most working families in Oxford, just as they aren't across the country. Paying bills is difficult for people working part-time when they need full-time jobs to support themselves. Families struggling with flat incomes have faced rising costs on many essentials. In the last three years, average energy bills have already gone up by almost £300 under this Coalition government.

If Labour wins the next general election, energy suppliers will have to freeze gas and electricity prices for 20 months. Ed Miliband's plans will put a floor under your energy bills, so that you don't have nasty surprises landing on your doormat.

When people are struggling, a government should give them the chance to support themselves. When people are made to choose between eating and heating, like the 7,000 Oxford households now in fuel poverty, we deserve a government that takes action proportionate to the problem. Labour's plan will save a typical household a much-needed sum of £120 and inject £1,800 into businesses, which they might then choose to spend hiring new staff.

Support in the short-term will lessen the daily difficulties of working families of modest means, but our energy prices crisis is a huge problem which won't be solved unless the energy market is reformed. That's why Ed Miliband will bring in price-lowering competition by breaking up the production and retail arms of the big energy companies. Making the energy industry competitive will stop firms raising bills when wholesale prices go up and holding them at high levels when prices go down again.

One of the best characteristics of our country is an instinct for fairness. Few now believe that the energy companies are making their profits in a fair way. Only last year Big Six bosses were paid up to £4m. Meanwhile, the average British worker's pay went up just 1.4%, which, after inflation of 3.5%, is actually a cut in real income. If we're going to stop the Big Six lining executive pockets by raising our bills, we need a Labour Government to make the energy companies play fairer and help people support their families. I'm right behind Ed on this, because I think people deserve better from their energy companies and their Government.

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