STEPHEN HEPBURN: We must regulate energy companies

No justification for the big energy price rises
No justification for the big energy price rises

Here we go again with the Big Six energy companies putting up prices by eye-watering amounts.

I’m truly sick and tired of this annual rip-off by hugely profitable, privatised companies run by Fat Cat bosses.

There is no justification for Npower charging you an inflation-smashing 15% extra for electricity and dual fuel customers an average 9.8% more, adding £109 a year to a typical bill.

Or supplier EDF hiking the cost of flicking on a light or watching the telly by 8.4%.

And all the time a Tory Prime Minister who pretends she’ll help families to manage does the square root of nothing.

Tedious Theresa May’s in hock to big business as much as David Cameron, John Major, Maggie Thatcher and the rest of the Conservatives who ruled over us.

She talks a better game than she plays when her broken words leave families poorer, shivering or both.

Exposing the dishonesty of Tories is only part of my job so I’ll come up with a couple of answers.

The first is to regulate the energy companies properly, keeping down prices so they can’t turn up the heat on customers.

Labour might’ve lost the last election but controlling energy costs was one of my party’s most popular polices.

I want Ofgem, the regulator, to be given sharp teeth to bite into unjustified profits.

The second is to restore energy as a public service operated in the interests of consumers rather than the bonus brigade that regularly milk customers.

No wonder it’s a popular position and one I back, pollster YouGov finding 68% of you favour renationalising gas and electricity companies.

Soaring bills are proof that energy, like rail, was an asset-stripping Tory sale at the cost of the public.

Higher bills and lower earnings is plunging households into fuel poverty.

In my Jarrow Parliamentary constituency - an area including the Boldons, Hebburn, Pelaw, Heworth, Wardley and Leam Lane - we have more than 4,000 households unable to afford the energy needed to keep warm and healthy in their homes.

These large bills are a huge strain on the low paid and those living in poorly insulated accommodation.

It’s made harder when a fifth of workers are on less than a living wage and insecurity is a blight.

I believe both that everybody who can work, should work and a decent day’s graft is worth a decent day’s pay.

Labour’s guaranteed minimum of £10 an hour would put real money into workers’ wage packets.

Politics comes down to whose side you’re on. The Labour Party stands up for working Britons including the self-employed and those with small businesses, whether low or nicely paid.

I see Theresa May and the Tories up close every week when I go down to Westminster from Jarrow.

The Conservatives are in it for themselves, a selfish party.

It’s why I can’t wait for us to switch off the lights of a rotten Tory Government.