Angela calls for urgent action on energy bills
Hard-working families in Penistone & Stocksbridge could be saving over £5.3m a year by switching energy supplier
The Big Six energy suppliers are overcharging local families in Penistone & Stockbridge more than £5million a year, Angela Smith MP warned today.
The new figures, calculated by leading independent energy supplier First Utility, show that households in Sheffield are sitting on some of the most expensive energy tariffs in the country, costing them up to an extra £327 every year.
This is despite Government rules, introduced in 2012, which forced the Big Six to tell their customers if cheaper deals exist - a requirement some big suppliers are deliberately circumventing. Across Yorkshire, hardworking families are losing up to £355 million a year.
Angela urged households to switch energy supplier before winter begins.
Angela Smith MP said: “With half term just a few weeks away and Christmas coming up fast on the horizon, every extra penny matters at this time of year. Switching energy supplier only takes a few minutes; the Government guarantees you can switch in 21 days or less with no double-billing, and hard-working families could stand to save hundreds of pounds a year.”
Looking at today’s figures, Angela also expressed particular concern that the Big Six energy companies were profiteering from the loyal customers they had inherited from privatisation - a concern Labour first raised three years ago at Party Conference, under then Leader Ed Miliband.
The figures obtained by First Utility suggest that 85% of Yorkshire households are supplied by one of the Big Six, and of those, 70% are on their supplier’s most expensive tariff, the Standard Variable Tariff wasting an average of £283.
nPower, which acquired the pre-privatisation monopoly energy provider, Yorkshire Electricity in 2001, overcharges its loyal customers by more than any other Big Six provider, with a gap of up to £327.
Ed Kamm, UK MD, First Utility comments:
“Yorkshire is one of the regions worst affected by overspending and this is down to the tactics of the largest energy companies in the area, who deliberately keep their own customers in the dark about the better deals they have on offer - and, in some cases, exclude them altogether from accessing those deals. We want to help customers to realise that loyalty isn’t always valued by these big firms. We’re encouraging people to take back control. It’s time for consumers to stand up to their provider and switch away for the better deals.”
Angela Smith MP said:
“It is outrageous that, more than 15 years later, the Big Six are still profiteering from the customers they inherited from privatisation - many of them old, vulnerable or working families who are cash-strapped but time poor, trapped on the worst possible deals as a result. As a bare minimum, the Big Six should be forced to tell their customers on a regular basis if they have cheaper energy deals available. The Government should also consider legislating to force the Big Six to automatically switch their most loyal customers to their cheapest possible deals. The Big Six have been over-charging their loyal customers for far too long.”
Across the UK as whole, households supplied by the Big Six energy companies are paying a staggering £4bn more for their energy needs in 2016 year than they should be. This is £600m more than First Utility identified in 2015 when they became the first to publish such ground-breaking figures.
Angela’s keynote address to the Raptors and Grouse Moors Conference
Can I first pay tribute to Ian and Christine for their introductions?
I have particularly known Ian for some time now and it's a pleasure to share the opening of this Conference with him today.
I want to start with a comment about my own constituencyI have walked the hills in my area for many years, going back well before 2005, when I became an MP. I love with a passion those moors - Langsett, Midhope and Broomhead, partly because I do not come across the lycra-clad brigade in large numbers
But the simple and stark fact is that neither do I see hen harriers on those moors. Or even peregrine falcons - I've only seen one in recent years, soaring over Broomhead reservoir.That should concentrate our minds more than a little.
Grouse moors aplenty, but no hen harriers. No stable populations of other birds of prey.
That's one of the reasons why I feel so passionately about this issue; not only am I a member of the RSPB, and have been for a long time, but I also know there is something wrong with our moorland habitats. There is something missing; healthy populations of our wonderful raptors.Now, I welcome this conference and hope that it can make a contribution to resolving the deeply embedded conflict that characterizes the debate about how best to manage our moorlands
Because one thing I am certain of - for as long as this conflict remains unresolved, the number one loser is the hen harrier, which is in danger of disappearing altogether from our wonderful uplands if we do not sit up and get on with the job of sorting out this problem
Over the next two days, you will hear a range of presentations from speakers with a wide range of perspectives and who represent different parts of the UK - Scotland, the Peak District and Bowland, for example
The discussions will be detailed and complex, and so they should be. This is not a black and white problem, easily resolved
So let me just throw in a few, brief comments about what I see as the politics of this debate
First of all, let's remember politics is the art of the possible and it is always preferable to act on the basis of consensus and partnershipSo, ideally, the best way forward, as far as our moorlands are concerned, would be to see all interested parties agreeing principles and working through differences to establish moorland management plans that balance sporting interests with the need to restore and maintain a healthy habitat, including of course stable and sustainable populations of raptors
Such plans would vary, of course, because our uplands are themselves wonderfully diverse. The grouse moors in my constituency are part of our precious Peak District blanket bog and are badly degraded (show maps) - amongst the most badly degraded in Europe. That does not mean other parts of our moorland landscape are the same. Each upland habitat needs its own plan, tailored to its own precious ecology
But it has to be said that the chances of delivering success with this voluntary approach look increasingly remote. Despite the partnership work still ongoing in places like the Dark Peak, which I know you're going to hear about later, the events of this summer suggest that relationships between the different parties involved are becoming even more difficult.
The withdrawal of the RSPB in particular from the Hen Harrier Action Plan is indicative and is a consequence of what the charity sees as a failure on the part of the landowners and the shooting interest to combat effectively the illegality that tarnishes the reputation of those who do want to enjoy their sport responsibly.
And, for a politician this is depressing news, for although there are legislative options available to us, the irony is that they become necessary at that point when conflict has deepened and become more firmly entrenched.
The first of these options, banning driven grouse shooting presents an apparently straight forward solution but runs the risk of alienating landowners, who in the final analysis maintain and manage our moorland areas and provide employment for many people living in rural areas. It may well also do little to prevent further persecution - there is no guarantee that making grouse shooting illegal will necessarily lead to a cessation of the illegal killing of birds of prey.Licensing is the other option available. Now, I understand that for the grouse shooting community this is also an unpalatable option and in many ways I would join with those who say that a voluntary, partnership based approach is preferable.
But let me also say this-the option has to remain on the table. If this conflict continues and if raptors continue to be persecuted, it will have to be considered. Politicians will not be able to stand aside and allow hen harriers to disappear from our uplands altogether habitats that can sustain the sport of shooting that so many people here today love so much
Enjoy the conference; I can stay for only this morning, but I wish you every success in at least taking a few small steps in the right direction
Don’t stop at 999: Angela attends British Red Cross event
MPs from across the UK recently attended a British Red Cross event in Westminster to highlight the issue of providing help to people before an ambulance arrives
New research has revealed up to 59% of deaths from injury could potentially be prevented if the public knew first aid. Often people call 999 then do nothing
To help alleviate the situation the British Red Cross is calling for more opportunities for people to learn first aid throughout their lives.
According to new research commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester Up to 59% of ‘pre-hospital’ deaths from injury could potentially be prevented if more people stepped in with some simple first aid.
The research was launched in Westminster on Tuesday 6th September and was attended by Angela.
Whilst 93% will call for an ambulance if they find someone with an injury, first aid intervention of any kind was infrequent. Around half did not attempt any first aid while waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive*. While at the event Angela learnt two simple first aid skills and pledged support for others to also have the opportunity to gain the confidence and learn the skills that could save a life.
Commenting Angela said;
It is quite shocking that people are dying when their lives could potentially have been saved through simple actions. This highlights a serious need for our population to be more widely educated in first aid.
I fully support the British Red Cross’ calls for first aid education to be mandatory in schools and as part of the driving test. Let’s hope more progress can be made with this latest research.”
Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education said:
“The good news is that most people are calling 999. But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives, every person needs to recognise that in an emergency, you are part of the ‘chain of survival.”
“The British Red Cross is calling for everyone in the UK to learn two basic first aid skills that could help to prevent the number of people who die from injuries, such as those resulting from falls or road traffic accidents, before reaching hospital.”
“Sadly in the majority of deaths we looked at, the simplest interventions could have helped keep someone alive until they got to hospital. For example something as simple as turning someone on their side and tilting their head back to keep their airway open – could be all it takes to make that difference between life and death in certain situations”.
“The charity is calling for more opportunities to learn first aid throughout one’s lifetime, starting at school, but also through the driving test and public health initiatives.”