British Gas – The Privatisation Con

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Gas – a basic resource which has now become a profit centre for fat-cat utilities. Picture © George Shuklin

Today the flagrant profiteering by Britain’s privatised utility companies was laid bare when Centrica, the owner of British Gas, announced its results, along with a threat to consumers that there would be blackouts if they weren’t allowed to make enough profits. Despite making £2.7bn  last year, Centrica’s Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite said that if attacks on their business practices continued, they may decide to cut investment in power supplies which could lead to blackouts within 2 years*.

Blackmail? Surely not. The principle of privatisation was sold to us on the basis that competition, and the greater efficiencies of private industry, would lead to better services and reduced prices – not that we would all be held to ransom by fat-cat bosses. Apparently British Gas don’t even like the idea of competition now, and have complained about politicians encouraging consumers to switch supplier in the pursuit of cheaper prices. And to add insult to injury, Centrica Chief-Exec Sam Laidlaw said that criticism of the industry would justify pay-increases for him and his buddies – to make up for their jobs now being less pleasant! (He’s already due to get a £4.6m share bonus this year, and last year the top 5 earners at Centrica took home £16.4m between them.)

Privatisation of public services has been one big con, with the bosses simply using it as a cash-cow for themselves, while we all pay the price.

For more on everything that’s wrong with privatisation click here.



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