East Lothian Courier – 1 June 2023


The idea that the newly announced price cap is some great munificence is simply absurd. The new rate, although lower, is still going to see fuel prices far higher than when the crisis began. Many will still struggle to meet bills with one charity even suggesting a figure of over six million people across the UK. Nor can it be blamed on war in the Ukraine or other factors. This is down to the absurdity of the pricing system and the dysfunctional privatised energy sector. That’s why costs will again be higher here than elsewhere in Europe.

Worsening that I’ve discovered that government funds that could have and should have gone to those suffering the most, have in fact been given to second home and holiday homeowners. The Alternative Fuel Payment of £200 paid out in February of this year was a belated attempt to help those off the gas grid and dependent on alternative fuels such as heating oil. Their costs have risen even more than for those using electricity or gas.

Yet it was paid out indiscriminately whether to pensioners struggling to heat their cottages and families freezing in their homes, or as it was to those who had a second home or who let it out as a holiday home. Many of the latter wouldn’t even have been there or had their property occupied at that time of year. Meanwhile the £200 paid to many was totally inadequate to meet the bills they faced. What a disgrace.

The follies of Brexit were again exposed in Parliament. The upside was supposed to be the ability to limit migration. Instead, net migration figures were up with EU nationals supplanted by those from Ukraine or Hong Kong. Meanwhile the labour shortage caused by chasing hardworking EU citizens away continues to afflict us and harm us.

Desperately chasing trade deals to replace business lost through Brexit is also coming at a price and for the entire planet. The latest trade deal with Malaysia has required concessions on palm oil, raising concerns about deforestation. Orangutan and other species further endangered. What a mess.