If you thought the energy price cap was confusing, spare a thought for John Penrose. Maybe it’s all that sea air but the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare has gone from being one of its key proponents, to calling for it to be lowered, to now admitting that it was a pretty bad idea after all. As political contortions go, it’s up there with the very best. Still, in a crowded field, the price cap must rank as one of the worst government policies ever, and it wasn’t even this Cabinet that introduced it. Whether it’s the price cap, the rollout of smart meters, woefully inadequate gas storage, or the unjustified and short-sighted decision to ban fracking, this country’s energy policy is laughably bad. It is impossible to have faith that ministers are equipped to manage the transition to a green economy. It’s not as if there aren’t any alternatives. Scottish Power boss Keith Anderson has proposed adjusting the price cap more often to smooth the spikes. He is also among those that think a so-called “social tariff” for the poorest households funded by more affluent ones would be more effective. Former electricity regulator Stephen Littlechild has suggested forcing each of the Big Six to transfer 10pc of their customers to a new subsidiary, which would then be sold to a new entrant, stimulating competition rather than restricting it like the price cap does. It’s clear the status quo cannot be maintained. The ultimate aim in encouraging a slew of start-ups was to dilute the dominance of the Big Six, which had been accused of profiteering.
Telegraph 25th Nov 2021 read more »
One of Britain’s biggest pub companies has reported a return to profitability since Covid restrictions were lifted but warned that cost pressures now posed huge challenges to the sector. Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), which owns brands including Harvester, All Bar One and Miller & Carter, said that utility bills, where prices of gas and electricity could swing wildly from one day to the next, were the biggest issue, followed by labour costs, which are forecast to grow by up to 5 per cent. Phil Urban, M&B’s chief executive, said that pre-pandemic the company was already facing cost headwinds of £60-£65 million. Ordinarily it would be able to offset these, but an added problem was soaring energy costs.
Times 26th Nov 2021 read more »