Archive for 2006
Since March, power companies have seen their gas costs fall by 36%, so why is it that families are experiencing higher power bills?
People have watched their fuel bills increase to more than £1000 this year. According to charities, lives have been put at risk during the colder months with poorer families left with a choice to either keep warm or eat.
Suspicions have risen within the official consumer body EnergyWatch so much so that they are calling for an inquiry into the UK’s big six power firms, these are:
The companies have blamed higher wholesale prices for the increase, however, costs have been reduced?
Reductions in costs are largely down to imported gas suppliers from Norway and the Netherlands. Cheap gas, should mean lower bills.
Research by experts at the website theenergyshop.com show the average wholesale price of gas hit a high of 2.55p per kilowatt hour in March this year. Since then it has fallen by 36% to 1.62p.
By contrast, the retail price paid by consumers has risen by almost 26% to 2.956p per kilowatt hour over the same period
The big 6 are saying that they buy their gas 6-8 months in advance, so people should start to see a drop in their bills by summer 2007.
EnergyWatch, chief executive, Allen Asher said:
‘If prices fail to come down it will only add to the suspicion that consumers are not being given a fair deal.
‘We believe there should be a Competition Commission inquiry into whether the market is working. Consumers have had enough of the relentless hammering from energy companies. They deserve to know that everything is being done to sort the problem out. Sitting on our hands waiting for prices to fall is not an acceptable response.’
You may have watched the TV programme Whistleblower screened on 26th September which filmed agents harassing and bullying debtors?
The footage involved official court bailiffs from Drakes and CCS Enforcement Service.
People watching the programme saw that these bailiffs were lying, illegally charging fees for letters never sent and doubling peoples debts, according to the BBC.
Two investigations have now been launched, one by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and another by an independent source initiated by the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies (ACEA).
Fred Ternant, chairman of (ACEA) said that they had been asking for Bailiff laws to be regulated for a number of years and there is currently a paper out for the Governments Dept. for Constitutional Affairs which he didn’t expect to see the light of day, although it may do now since the showing of the events on Whistle Blower.
Reverend Paul Nicolson, chairman of Z2k said Bailiffs were out of control. They have no supervised professional standards, an so citizens are unprotected against forced entry to seize property.
It would seem that the exposed actions of some Official Court Bailiffs has stirred things up to leave no option except to take a long hard look at regulating Bailiff Law.
Since the programme had been aired, Drakes has confirmed that three of the bailiffs featured had been sacked and a manager had been demoted after a disciplinary process.
Students heading for colleges and universities are already considering bankruptcy as an option should they find themselves in too much debt.
According to Equifax, the credit reference agency, 11% of respondents would take the bankruptcy route should they find themselves in financial difficulty.
What students are possibly not considering are the serious restrictions that bankruptcy brings.
Bankruptcy not only affects your credit status for 6 years, but also restricts where you are able to work.
Many financial and law firms will not employ someone who is bankrupt and if this is an area of study, then bankruptcy will not be an option should a financial problem occur.
One person in every five in England and Wales is said to be buckling under a mountain of debt, a trend helped along by rises in the cost of borrowing.
Insolvencies in England and Wales rose 66.3 percent in the 3 months leading up to June and court orders for home repossession jumped by a 5th.
Mark Sands, director of personal insolvency of financial consultants KPMG said:
Given that consumers are now facing higher fuel and heating costs as well as heftier council tax bills, we forecast that the stress on those in debt is likely to increase. This week’s rise in interest rates will place added pressure on those already on the brink.
With mortgage rates on the rise, homeowners are feeling the pressure meeting their financial obligations and thousands who have secured borrowings on their property are facing the prospect of loosing their homes due to house repossession orders.
Britain’s banks are blaming the change in the Bankruptcy Law, which they claim have caused a surge in bad debt charges in their financial year. They say the changes in The Enterprise Act 2002 made it easier for people to declare themselves bankrupt, which resulted in larger amounts of debts being written off.
Banks are also saying that people opting for Individual Voluntary Arrangements have played their part:
Individual voluntary arrangements, in particular, have had a huge impact on the numbers,” said Les Manning, a consultant at Deloitte. “IVA’s are the acceptable face of personal insolvency.
However, there has been a drop in the number of personal bankruptcies, so this does at least offer some ray of hope as more people are choosing the IVA route rather than going bankrupt.