Urgently needed: public ownership of the utility companies

Yes, public ownership!

Or else we face another painful hike in prices:

Bills could start rising again in the summer by as much as 25 per cent, or an average £250 per household.

Allan Asher, chief executive of consumer body energywatch, said: ‘Price rises on such a shocking scale would be catastrophic for consumers.’ Households are still digesting rises of about 15 per cent from earlier this year.

[…] energywatch warned this weekend that increasing utility bills by 25 per cent would consign another million households to fuel poverty.

And the possibility of disruptied service or even more price rises should the ongoing economic crisis hit harder:

Britain’s utilities have racked up £30bn of debt and could be the next casualties of the credit crunch, according to a report out today.

Some companies are so highly leveraged they may be unable to fund repairs if storms or flooding disrupt electricity and water supplies, warns Reynolds Partners, an independent investment bank.

John Reynolds, its chief, says: ‘I think that it is only a matter of time before there is a major shock and we find that a utility can’t afford to restore power to homes, hospitals or businesses. At that point the regulator would have to allow bills to rise to pay for the damage, or customers will have to wait longer than they should for normal service to resume, or both.’

Deceitful and racist – govt’s new immigration policy

When I first heard of the changes to immigration law I suspected like others that the government was about to make a pretense of ensuring that the immigration system is carefully and fairly planned and financed whilst penalising non-white migrant workers with harsher treatment than afforded to the mostly white migrants from Central and Eastern Europe.

It seems we were right to think the government was about to discriminate and decieve in an effort to divide working class people:

Thousands of restaurant workers have gathered in London to protest about recent changes to immigration laws.

Groups representing 44,000 Chinese, Turkish and South Asian firms are meeting in Trafalgar Square to voice fears over new immigrant restrictions.

The Ethnic Catering Alliance estimates up to 30% of its restaurants are under threat because of new rules requiring non-EU staff to meet strict criteria.

Ministers say the system balances the interests of UK and foreign workers.

The protest comes after the launch of the new points-based system at the end of February for migrants from outside the EU, which favours highly-skilled workers.

As the Respect Renewal website points out:

When temporary work permits expire the government forces the workers concerned to return to their home country and apply again for permits. Not only is this expensive (and environmentally damaging), under the new “Australian” rules, many workers will now be turned down for permit renewal. This will have a potentially devastating impact on the Indian, Turkish and Chinese restaurant businesses.