By Jack Sargeant

MS for Alyn and Deeside

As millions of households face souring energy bills during an unbridled cost of living crisis, many have been forced into fuel poverty. They face a winter that will mean having to choose between warming their homes or putting food on the table.

It is not unreasonable for residents to ask serious questions of energy companies who are putting such a huge stain on them and their families and driving inflation rises. Today we learnt that, the owner of British Gas, Centrica, has seen a five-fold increase in profits over the last six months. The energy giant has made over £1.34 billion at a time when ordinary working people are being told to tighten their belts and accept real term pay cuts.

This isn’t an isolated incident of corporations benefitting from fuel price hikes either. Oil company Shell has doubled its earnings in a single year, recording profits of more than $11 billion.

It is morally unjustifiable and economically dangerous for corporate giants to be seeking to increase their profits in this way. Whilst they do, it is working people who will continue to pay the price.

We have heard a lot of misleading arguments that workers making legitimate pay demands will drive up inflation. The stark reality is it is corporations and their unending quest for larger profits that is to blame for spiralling inflation and that working people have seen there pay fall in real terms over many years.

We have all seen on the news in recent weeks trade unionists making passionate cases for their members and their living standards, only to be accused by the journalists and pundits of damaging the economy and disrupting the peoples’ lives.

Why are the Chief Executives of big corporations not examined live on tv in this way? I think every single person in this country has a right hear corporations and the decisions they take properly scrutinised. An average household has seen their energy bills increase by nearly three times over the last year and a full explanation for these rises should be given. I sincerely hope the reported profits today aren’t about to be turned into massive bonuses for those at the top, but I won’t be holding my breath.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however. France’s energy provider, EDF, is state-owned and so the Government has been able to ensure price rises are at kept at 4% - a stark difference to the 54% increase to the energy price cap our Tory Government has allowed. Boris and his entourage have failed to protect working people and every single one of them must be held accountable.

The system in this country isn’t working. We now need to seriously consider state ownership of companies that provide public necessities, such as energy, broadband and public transport. To relieve the current cot of living crisis and to allow us to properly plan for greener energy provision, which the current providers have so wholly failed to do.

As RMT’s Eddie Dempsey powerfully said ‘are we going to have a country run by corporations with some people in it. Or are we going to have a country that’s run for the people with some corporations in it?’

Members of the CWU and RMT Unions on strike this week are on the frontline of this fight. They are calling for a fair increase in their pay packet after 10 year of real term pay cuts and have my full support. I will always stand in solidarity with those fighting for a better deal.