Carolyn Thomas MS calls for energy firms to be nationalised over soaring bills

A Welsh Labor Senedd member has called for energy companies to be nationalised, as bills continue to soar.

Calling recent record-breaking profits reported by fuel firms like BP and Shell “obscene”, North Wales MS Carolyn Thomas said that bringing energy into public ownership would help to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

It comes as energy consultancy Cornwall Insight predicts average household bills will hit a staggering £3359 per year from October – more than double the figure for October 2021 – with further rises in January.

“The sorts of increases we are talking about here are simply unsustainable for many households across Wales – as winter approaches, it is clear that further intervention is required from the government,” Thomas said.

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“We’ve seen just last week, Centrica, the owners of British Gas, announcing a 500 percent increase in quarterly profits – a staggering £1.34bn of profit.

“Shell also announced record quarterly profits of £9.5bn.

“Private ownership means that these companies are able to make such staggering profits whilst putting consumers energy bills up by nearly 200 percent in a year.

“It is obscene.”

Oil firm BP reported its highest quarterly profits in 14 years this week, at just under £7billion. This figure was more than triple the company’s profits in during the same period last year.

“Under public ownership, instead of stuffing the pockets of a small number of shareholders with billions of pounds of profit, those huge sums of money would be used to significantly reduce the bills of consumers,” Thomas added.

“People are already having to make tough choices between using appliances or buying food, and this is only going to get worse as we head into the winter.

“A failure to act will be consigning many people across the country to an incredibly bleak winter – which some vulnerable people might not make it through.”

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As part of Welsh Labor’s cooperation deal with Plaid Cymru, the government has pledged to develop a publicly owned energy firm – Ynni Cymru – though significant progress towards that end has not yet been reported.

UK Labor, meanwhile, recently axed its own previous pledge to nationalise energy firms. Instead, the party has proposed a cut to VAT on energy bills, a move that would cut costs – which have more than doubled – by just five percent.

Conversely, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) last week announced it would back public ownership of energy, noting that bailing out failing energy companies has so far cost the public £2.7b, compared with the £2.85b it would cost to buy up the Big Five energy firms outright.

Energy is publicly owned in countries including France, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

On Thursday, the Bank of England announced that the UK will face an economic recession this year, as it confirmed that it would be hiking interest rates from 1.25 percent to 1.75 – the biggest single increase seen in the UK since the mid-nineties.

This decision will increase the amount of interest people will have to pay back on loans, mortgages, and credit card debt – a move which economist Grace Blakeley said “will make the problem worse”.

Inflation – a measure of changes to everyday living costs – is expected to reach 13 percent by the end of the year.

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