To think gas, electricity and water should be supplied by the government?

(79 Posts)
Thisisaname Fri 18-Jan-13 20:13:25

Prices the companies are charging are ridiculous!

I'm not saying it should be free, just the same as it is now but is fully controlled by the government, everyone with jobs with those companies now is to work with the government and anyone who would loose their job would probably easier find one due to more people having money due to it being regulated so people buy more stuff and companies have more money so more people to employ.

Also these companies tend to tax avoid so more money on that front and the government HAVE to publish what they pay per unit and how much profit they make and where it goes.

Someone tell me AIBU before I retrain in politics and run for mp, pleeaassee

MrsLouisTheroux Fri 18-Jan-13 20:16:37

YABU but prices should rise with inflation. Same with petrol and food. My wages haven't gone up in years.

MrsLouisTheroux Fri 18-Jan-13 20:17:45

Is that what you meant? grin In that case YANBU!!

thenightsky Fri 18-Jan-13 20:18:19

Nice idea in OP. I think its been tried in Cuba.

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:18:35

Well the UK government wouldn't be able to do much to fix the prices so YABU

A bit

JeezyOrangePips Fri 18-Jan-13 20:18:52

YANBU. Everyone knows that governments manage to run everything efficiently and with minimum costs.

Oh wait.......

discorabbit Fri 18-Jan-13 20:19:22

like it used to be before thatcher?

sooperdooper Fri 18-Jan-13 20:19:27

Yes, I think it's a great idea

Wallison Fri 18-Jan-13 20:20:08

Yes, because it's so much cheaper to heat and light our homes and get clean water into them since the govt stopped doing it.

Oh wait .........

chickensarmpit Fri 18-Jan-13 20:21:35


Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SueDoku Fri 18-Jan-13 20:22:49

Now now, you know that nice Mrs Thatcher told us that her friends the clever businessmen would make everything much cheaper - we just have to give them time...

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:22:54

We have to import most of our gas. Which would make it difficult for the government to fix prices

We are facing a big energy gap. We just don't have enough.

If shale pans out like it has in the US that could change things. But it could be very bad for the environment

BunFagFreddie Fri 18-Jan-13 20:23:36

It used to be owned by the government until it was privatised. I'm too young to remember whether that was a good thing or not <that could be a stealth boast>.

PoppyWearer Fri 18-Jan-13 20:24:14

Where do we even begin with the history lesson on this thread?

OP, please refer to the 1970s and 80s. Probably before you were born?

[old gimmer emoticon]

Wallison Fri 18-Jan-13 20:24:41

Ah yes, SueDoku, the almighty free market, where everything finds its natural price and no-one sits at the top funnelling £billions to their mates.

JeezyOrangePips Fri 18-Jan-13 20:24:57

Yeah, and there's been hardly any increase in costs ruled by government, such as duty and council tax.... I've gone fron paying £135 per year to a similar amount per month...

Sallyingforth Fri 18-Jan-13 20:24:58

You mean the government should run the utilities without a profit being required?
Well we used to do it that way until a certain woman decided otherwise.
Now we have to buy our electricity and gas from foreign-owned companies.
Bloody Thatcher.

If this government could find away to charge the poor and disabled more so that their rich mates could get it cheaper I'm sure they'd warm to the idea.

HollyBerryBush Fri 18-Jan-13 20:26:05

Nationalised infrastructures suck money out of the economy, they had to be privatised, and you will find the baby boomer generation did very well out of investing in the newly formed companies.

The country cant afford anotehr raft of employees with the equivalent of civil service pensions.

12ylnon Fri 18-Jan-13 20:26:25

Wouldn't our taxes just go up?

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:26:31

There isn't actually that big a profit margin being charged by the UK suppliers tbh

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 20:27:10

My water is supplied by the government but the electricity is private but there is only one supplier so no choice.

DameMargotFountain Fri 18-Jan-13 20:28:08

yup, we used to have nationalised utilities

<dream sequence>

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:28:08

Now we have to buy our electricity and gas from foreign-owned companies.

We HAVE to import gas because we don't have a) enough gas and b) enough storage

Not because of de-regulation

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 20:28:13

catgirl, there is a massive profit, my water costs around 45 pounds per year which includes sewerage.

meditrina Fri 18-Jan-13 20:30:08

I do not think we would be able to renationalise, because of EU policy.

Actually Akiss that is sort of what the new Green Deal will do... Subsidies on all energy bills but poorer people much less likely to benefit.


catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:35:04

The margins supplier take is less than 10% of your bill

Nearly half is wholesale energy costs

The rest (aside from VAT) is made up of distribution and transmission costs, network charges, operational costs and environmental levies

So if you get a £100 bill, Eon or whoever get about £9 of that

Your water costs are cheaper because we don't have to import water and water is not traded as a commodity


HollyBerryBush Fri 18-Jan-13 20:35:13

We also export gas and electricity - and import because it's cheaper - with a long windy explanation its to do with foreign currency stocks

MiniTheMinx Fri 18-Jan-13 20:36:00

I think it's the way forward and every penny made can be used to invest in new technologies rather than lining the pockets of tax dodgers.

Wallison Fri 18-Jan-13 20:39:17

^ distribution and transmission costs, network charges, operational costs

When energy was under national control, they had these same costs too. Yet they are much higher now, despite the supposed 'efficiency' of the private sector.

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 20:39:40

Catgirl , why does my government supplied water cost less in a year compared to what some people pay in a month to private companies, its is a lot more than a 10% margin, as I have already posted my water and sewerage costs 45 quid a year but from a few threads I have learnt that people pay more than that in a month in some cases which is just crazy.

stargirl1701 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:42:17

Water in Scotland is supplied by the government.

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 20:43:57

stargirl, is it expensive compared to England? my water is N.I is also government supplied and owned.

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:46:08

Holly We don't import because it's cheaper

We import because we do not generate enough gas to match demand and because we do not have sufficient storage facilities to keep reserves of gas we generate when demand it low. The UK is dependent on gas imports.

Our import / export ratios are not really related to foreign currency stocks as such, but the wholesale price of energy (About 45% of your bill) is related to global financial commodity markets, the price of oil, security of supply, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the discovery of new gas fields, or new extration technologies such as Shale gas.

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:48:39

When energy was under national control, they had these same costs too. Yet they are much higher now, despite the supposed 'efficiency' of the private sector.

These costs have increased, but nowhere near at the rate of wholesale energy

When the industry was regulated, the UK produced enough gas to meet supply

It was only around 2004 that demand outstripped supply, leading to us having to import gas and being far more exposed to the volatility of the wholesale market

youngermother1 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:50:24

Because private companies provide it better and cheaper - we are cheaper than france and germany for gas here and quality of service is much better

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 20:53:54

younermother, No they do not , they can be up to 300% more expensive than government supplied water in the U.K, most are at least 100% more expensive and the service is no different

Dawndonna Fri 18-Jan-13 20:55:06

According to your graph, France is still cheaper. France has a nationalised industry.

Dawndonna Fri 18-Jan-13 20:56:11

Oh, and British Gas profits were 345 million up to July last year, which means a price reduction could be managed.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:58:33

That is largely because France is the major nuclear energy generator within the EU and generates around 40% of its energy for nuclear sources

They have very low generation costs because of this and are also the largest exporter of electricity in the EU

i pay £45 a month for water envy

I get my gas & elec from edf - yes a french company is cheaper than a uk company.

I very much want nationalisation back even though I am too young to remember it first time round <stealth boast>

i also want to see trains and buses re-nationalised.

Privitisation doesn't seem to benefit the consumer and needs to stop now before the NHS goes under too <sigh>

FredFredGeorge Fri 18-Jan-13 21:07:42

Water in the parts of the country with abundant water and lowish population density is much cheaper than the parts of the country with a shortage of water (ie more reservoirs) and high population densities (ie more sewage handling in each sewer/plant). The ownership is irrelevant, although if there was a single national price then yes the price for the Scottish regions could rise.

MiniTheMinx Fri 18-Jan-13 21:09:56

It's obvious that utilities are taking a larger slice of peoples incomes now. It's likely to get worse because Gas/elec companies know that heating and light along with water and food are pretty much non-negotiable and they are necessities. We have no option but pay.

If there wasn't such huge profits to be made from privatisation of water/gas/elec why did we wage war on Iraq and impose privatised utilities upon them? That's why there is no way Thatcher's children will ever consider renationalising here.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 18-Jan-13 21:11:00

<applauds catgirl's posts>

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 18-Jan-13 21:12:02

Hang on, we went to war in Iraq so we could privatise their utilities?

That's a new one on me.

MiniTheMinx Fri 18-Jan-13 21:13:43

We went to war in Iraq because Sadam refused to play ball and privatise oil.
Do you also know that sadam was sponsored to take over Iraq by the Americans. They got sick of him because he refused to privatise much of his economy and open it up to american corporations.

catgirl1976 Fri 18-Jan-13 21:15:59

it isn't that there are not huge profits to be made in privatised retail energy supply

It's that those profits are a very small factor in the price of energy

If they cut those profits by 50%, you would save about £45 on a £1,000 energy bill

If there was no profit at all your £1000 energy bill would drop to about £920

Not much of a saving

This isn't about private / national. That is NOT a significant factor in energy prices

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 18-Jan-13 21:17:03

I thought it was to secure access to their oil for ourselves, no?

MiniTheMinx Fri 18-Jan-13 21:19:06

"In 1958 there was a popular revolution in Iraq. Ten years later, the rightwing of the Ba’ath party took power, with Saddam Hussein serving as point man for the CIA. His assignment was to undo the bourgeois-democratic revolution, as I have already noted. But instead of acting as a compradore collaborator to Western investors in the style of Nicaragua’s Somoza, Chile’s Pinochet, Peru’s Fujimora, and numerous others, Saddam and his cohorts nationalized the Iraqi oil industry in 1972, ejected the Western profiteers, and pursued policies of public development and economic nationalism" Michael parenti Historian

Bureni, there are more energy suppliers in NI now. Since 2011 I think it was. Airtricity are 14% cheaper than NIE (now powerni.

But beware of scammer salesmen. Some are genuine airtricity and some are scam.

Pendipidy Fri 18-Jan-13 21:26:02

If you fancy that, move to a communist country.

One word of warning though, my brother lives in China. He wears many layers of clothes plus a thick coat in his flat, as well as outside. The govt decide when the heating gets put on in the whole country, no one can put their own on. The govt wait until it is seriously freezing until they switch it on.

PessaryPam Fri 18-Jan-13 21:35:28

Anyone on here old enough to remember how expensive food and fuel was back in the 70's before Thatcher?

I have been to Cuba and it's a large open prison island. I don't want that here ta very much.

Wallison Fri 18-Jan-13 22:01:45

That's interesting about China. Back in the day when I lived in Russia, heating was also centrally controlled there. And free. From October to April, it was on 7 days a week 24 hours a day, hot water likewise. When I had parties in my apartment I had to open windows because we got too hot! So I suppose what I'm saying is that even the communists got one thing right - there were no babushkas dying of hypothermia over there.

Anyway, it's a little hysterical to say that one has to be a communist to be in favour of publicly-owned utilities - after all, that's how it was in the UK for a long time, even during tory administrations.

PeneloPeePitstop Fri 18-Jan-13 22:03:21

This shower couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery. Your utilities would be permanently out of order!

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 18-Jan-13 22:09:39

While we're at it, can we return the trains and stop the privatisation of Royal Mail too?

I can remember nationalised industries and they were not well managed at all. I believe that nationalisation can work and probably would work better now. It will never happen though.

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 22:11:07

Wannabe, I have heard of them but do not have access to them in my area (out in the sticks) besides I supply all my own electricity bar what the washing machine and oven take from the grid which I hope to do away with in the near future if the funds are there. It is the cost of water that people are paying that is crazy, I know my water service and supply are far from perfect but it does not warrant the high costs that people pay through private suppliers.

Sallyingforth Fri 18-Jan-13 22:20:12

We buy our electricity from EDF. Owned by the government - the French government. Their profits go to subsidise the French economy, not ours. That can't be right.

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 23:17:28

England also buys a lot of its green energy from Ireland which prevents the EU from imposing fines due to the lack of renewable energy in the country which in turn is due to the NIMBYS.

Debs75 Fri 18-Jan-13 23:27:20

If the govt supplied the water, gas and electiricty and charged us the rip off prices that the big 5 do they could probably solve our countries debt within two years. Imagine the saving they could make if they bought a whole countries woth of energy in bulk?
It will never work though as the govt don't like helping us poor plebs at all and they would see this as bailing us out not as controlling the harsh fuel price rises

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 18-Jan-13 23:30:23

But Debs, EDF etc more or less do buy a whole country's energy supply in bulk, as they are buying for several markets at once.

OhlimpPricks Fri 18-Jan-13 23:31:12

'I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can't pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford. I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income. If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old.’

bureni Fri 18-Jan-13 23:31:30

I am thinking this thread only applies to England as other parts of the U.K do seem to have government suppliers of water etc which are far cheaper to the user than what England seems to pay.

PeneloPeePitstop Fri 18-Jan-13 23:35:07

Bravo, oh

Shallishanti Fri 18-Jan-13 23:40:31

mmm, v prescient of NK
OP, we did have all that, it was nationalisation (seemed obvious to me when I was growing up)
Thatcher got rid of it and said that we all had CHOICE that would bring an efficiency
so now we have an efficient system, great isn't it
this is why us oldies spit when her names mentioned

youngermother1 Sat 19-Jan-13 01:18:22

ohlimp great speech by a much maligned man, but wrong - the 80's and 90's were a great time. Completely ruined by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair - current lot are picking up the pieces.

catgirl1976 Sat 19-Jan-13 07:00:24

Thanks Doctrine blush thanks

I do work in energy trading so it's a rare thread I actually know something about smile

JollyRedGiant Sat 19-Jan-13 07:09:49

In Aberdeenshire, water was £182 for the year of 2012/13.

Sewerage was an additional £211.

Link here -

I love it when people say nationalise things, it will be better!

No it bloody won't. I went from working for a private company to working for the nhs and it is a shower of shite, full of lazy arses who would have been dismissed if they worked for a private company but as is almost impossible to lose your job in nhs we have to keep paying them. Is also terribly inefficient, money is wasted left right and centre and there are more bloody regulations and bodies that regulate the nhs than you can shake a stick at.

I wouldn't be surprised if the government (labour or Tory) ran the gas and electric companies that we had no power for a couple of hours each day.

Ha ha and can you imagine the bloody unions would pop back up and somewhat like the underground we would be held to bloody ransom. It wasn't all hearts and flowers and shitting butterflies under nationalisation!

EuroShagmore Sat 19-Jan-13 09:27:23

I can just about remember the pre-privatisation times. I wasn't much involved with gas, electric and water at that age, but I do remember it taking many weeks to get a phone line (also under govt control) connected and things like that.

lozster Sat 19-Jan-13 10:14:06

Oh dear, the comments on nationalised industry being 'communist' have made me titter and reminded me of the McCarthy witch hunts! You are either too young to remember Thatcher selling off the family silver or have a short memory! Also, I take it you live in fear of the nhs and the education system?

Good or bad, I don't think nationalisation is going to make a come back. There is an alternative though that is available at the moment which are not for profit fuel cooperatives. They negotiate a wholesale price then sell on not for profit. Ebico is the most well known. The more people join up the harder they can negotiate. Ebico is relatively large so a quick google will find them.

..... And 'No Sir, I am not a communist'. grin

lozster Sat 19-Jan-13 10:25:29

.... Also, I've posted this many times before here so apologies if everyone knows already, but ebico have a flat rate charge so if you are on a pre-pay card meter you are not charged any more than anyone else. The rate for me on ebico is not the very cheapest I could get but personally I agree with the principle social energy. The poorest people should not be paying the highest rates.

docsarah Sat 19-Jan-13 10:48:42

My water and electric bills in East Anglia are much cheaper than my parents' or sister's equivalent (electric + water rates) in Northern Ireland. The deregulated companies also have to meet regulator's standards which IIRC have really reduced the amount of leaks. Compared to my sister in NI, who has been told that the drain problem which has flooded out her entire street twice in the past 4 years won't be fixed until at least 2015, I know where I'd rather be.

Also, it's not difficult to shop around for cheaper electric and gas, is it? I also think the onus is on householders to make sure they're as efficient as possible - I have real sympathy for renters who might be stuck on pre-paid meters and can't undertake improvements to make their house more energy efficient.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 19-Jan-13 11:10:39

YABU. Nationalised power would not be cheaper necessarily because any shortfall caused by an increase in wholesale prices would be met by the taxpayer... still us.... Fossil fuels are not getting more plentiful so prices are on an upward trajectory.

What I would support is a mass insulation, modernisation and domestic/commercial property power-generation initiative paid for out of tax money. It's already happening to a certain extent but it could be beefed up. Would create lots of jobs making/installing insulation, domestic bills would drop and the nation would be a little less reliant on overseas-sourced energy. Win-win

If housing associations built in micro-generation schemes to social housing, they could negotiate a decent bulk price, slash fuel poverty rates and raise domestic green energy generation levels all at once. They don't because the maths doesn't add up, especially with the HB caps.
Insulation and impartial advice for families on cutting bills (and how to join/form co-operatives to shop around for the best price) will help people immediately, renationalising will just mess it up for at least a few years until it all gets sorted out or not, as is usually the case

SisyphusDad Sat 19-Jan-13 22:01:30

The one thing that no one has mentioned is investment.

What happens if you spend almost nothing on looking after your house for several decades? Answer: it falls down.

Well, that's what successive governments did with the gas, electricity and water infrastructure. Transferring ownership to the private sector meant that they didn't get the blame for all the extra costs for renewing the national grid, the gas network and the water and sewerage piework that would otherwise have collapsed. You've also got the levys to support renewable energy - a new gravy train for dodgy businesses that we have to pay for.

Not saying that the utilities are saints, but the real picture is rather more complicated.

hrrumph Sat 19-Jan-13 22:08:55

Well it used to be the case. There were a lot more power cuts then. And as I understand it, things weren't terribly efficient. The trouble with monopolies is that no competition generally leads to complacency.

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