Who hasn’t got a story about rising energy costs?
Nobody, I suspect. And with the recent demise of the energywatch consumer watchdog (merged with Postwatch and the National Consumer Council into a body called Consumer Focus) now might be a time to keep a more watchful eye.
The Welsh Tories today revealed that petrol and diesel costs for the Welsh Ambulance Service have risen by more than £1.5m since 2001, a rise of 67 per cent in seven years.
The trust also reported a 120 per cent rise in gas and electricity prices since 2001, adding hundreds of thousands of pounds to annual running costs.
Other NHS trusts have reported similar rises in fuel and energy bills over the same period, according to figures obtained by Clwyd West AM Darren Millar.
Fuel bills for Cardiff and the Vale NHS trust alone have increased by 186 per cent since 2001 while its energy costs have doubled to £6.8m since 2000.
In the last financial year trusts spent £28.5m on gas and electricity for hospitals and other NHS buildings. In a written response to a question from Jonathan Morgan AM, Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “NHS Trust expenditure on energy, ie gas and electricity, was £28.5m in 2007/08. I expect this figure to increase this year in view of current market conditions.”
Meanwhile, as the dust settles on the bank bail-out, general media opinion is that it is good news for bank shareholders and speculators, and those with savings of £50,000…but what about everyone else?
Tax expert Prem Sikka, a professor from the University of Essex, says: “Soon ministers will be telling us that because of the bail-out public finances are to be squeezed and local and central government departments will cut services and jobs. The burden will disproportionately fall on the less well-off. There is a little chance of a bail-out for the 13.2 million people living in poverty, or for 2.1 million pensioners and 3.9 million children living in poverty, or students starting life in debt. When will the government find money for social reform?”