ADAM Robertson’s article on the government’s plans to introduce a cap on wholesale energy bills for businesses somehow reminded me of the announcement of the Public Private Partnership schemes near the end of a period of Tory government in the 1990s (Wholesale energy prices set to be capped for businesses, UK Government announces,, Sep 21).

UK energy users are about to see the end of the false market in energy where the market was flooded by companies that had nothing to sell and no financial reserves acting as brokers between energy wholesalers and energy users.

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These companies relied on market fluctuations for profitability as their unstable customer base switched their buying to whoever had the cheapest energy, virtually on a daily basis.

As soon as energy prices began their steady climb these underfunded companies began to collapse, until now where only a handful of very large energy suppliers are left, with negligible competition as they are all buying energy at international market rates.

The UK Government is not fixing energy bills to businesses, any more than it did for domestic customers, it is subsidising energy-supplying companies with borrowed money to fix the unit price for six months in the hope they will pass it on to their business customers by holding their energy bills at estimated levels.

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Most observers agree that government intervention will have to be long term as high energy prices are predicted to last for several years, before the government can even begin repayment of the borrowed money by a charge on the energy companies’ customers.

The UK Government will have to keep control over energy prices, holding them above international energy market rates, until the loans are repaid.

This has all the appearance of becoming another PPP situation where the government forced local authorities and other public bodies to “buy now, pay later” for buildings and services with disastrous long-term financial consequences.

In a few years UK energy users will be paying higher government-set prices to repay the subsidy borrowing, restart investment and ensure that the shareholders’ dividends remain at the levels that became the norm due to the windfall profits generated during the energy crisis.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

WE all know that the present UK Government has no understanding of real poverty and destitution and expects those with no money to “endure some hardship”, as Boris recently out it. What is so difficult to understand if someone has no means to feed their children today, let alone tomorrow?

I am fortunately rather more able to cope now, but when I review my long life, I realise that the reason I was nursed through measles and whooping cough on a camp bed in a friend’s unfurnished attic was that our family was homeless, during the period of rationing just after the war. Knowing that, I believe, means I have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate, but the UK Government cares so little that it ignores several obvious means of alleviating this crisis, in favour of making its rich friends richer.

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Most obviously, the companies making huge, unexpected profits do not decide on their future investments at short notice, and so their plans were already in place on the basis of fairly normal profit levels. So NOT to tax these massive windfalls is simply making them richer at the expense of the lives of the poorest. In any case, much of the unexpected “bonus” will not come to the UK in any form, but be stashed in tax havens.

Therein lies a second source of funds for the crisis. I have recently been sent a bill by HMRC for a tiny amount of unpaid tax, due to an error THEY made four years ago. I have heard of a pensioner being chased for years for one penny unpaid. So why not demand tax for the last five years on all profits made in the UK but exported, untaxed, to these havens? And change the laws there as most are under UK jurisdiction. I suspect that alone would solve most of the crisis.

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Thirdly, is it not time to stop the ridiculously unfair differential in energy standing charges, highest in the north of Scotland and lowest in London and the south-east, and recently raised by 83% in the former, but only 38% in the latter? In addition, they could scrap the £7.36 per megawatt hour our renewable companies are charged to send the 40% of their product to England.

Finally, they could also stop the equally ridiculous practice of setting the cost of renewable energy at the price of gas, which just means that there are no customer benefits from an energy supplier promising you only renewable energy.

Sadly, I’ll be in my box before any of these solutions are implemented, unless we get independence PDQ.

L McGregor

WE have now heard from the Westminster government regarding assistance for the business sector with the fuel cost crisis. This announcement, however welcome, gave no opportunity for MPs to analyse and question the government, because it was not a statement to parliament! This announcement gave no details of where the funding was coming from to financially support this package for business.

The UK Government’s answer to the energy cost crisis seems to be a price cap for households and businesses, however, this price cap will see energy companies rubbing their hands, adding to their enormous profits, while costing taxpayers dearly.

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One of the energy companies supplying many UK customers is wholly owned by the French government, begging the question, are UK taxpayers financing the price cap imposed in France?

As yet we do not have the details of this package – that may come on Friday when we will get a statement in the form of a mini-budget from the new Chancellor. In light of the cost-of-living crisis and winter just around the corner, when our NHS will experience unprecedented demands on services, the Chancellor must reinstate the £20/week uplift to Universal Credit along with a review of the 3.1% increase to welfare benefits this year in an effort to alleviate demands on the NHS due to poverty and hardship.

Catriona C Clark