Saturday, 19 October 2013

Archbishop Damns Energy Price Hikes in Controversial Attack: 'Firms Must Show Generosity...Not Just Maximise Their Profits'

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
MAIL ONLINE: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby criticised energy companies / The former oil executive said he understood anger over price hikes / Speaking exclusively to Mail on Sunday he said rises were 'huge moral issue'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised energy companies for imposing huge price rises that will hammer struggling families.

Justin Welby said power giants had a ‘massive’ moral duty beyond squeezing customers for maximum profit, and challenged the firms to justify their huge increases in bills.

The Archbishop, himself a former oil executive, said he understood the anger over apparently ‘inexplicable’ rises and called on the companies ‘to behave with generosity and not merely to maximise opportunity’.

He hit out after British Gas announced a 9.2 per cent hike, despite parent company Centrica recording a £2.7 billion profit last year. Other suppliers are expected to follow suit. Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Britain’s most senior cleric said that rises which would add an average £123 a year to bills were ‘a huge moral issue’ for energy firms.

Archbishop Welby’s comments will heap pressure on the Government to get tougher on the industry. Energy prices have become a major political issue, with Labour accusing the Government of failing to tackle ‘rip-off’ companies, while Ministers have said consumers should switch to better deals and even wear jumpers to keep warm.

The Archbishop called on energy companies to be ‘conscious of their social obligations’ and said: ‘The impact on people, particularly on low incomes, is going to be really severe in this, and the companies have to justify fully what they are doing.

‘I do understand when people feel that this is inexplicable, and I can understand people being angry about it, because having spent years on a low income as a clergyman I know what it is like when your household budget is blown apart by a significant extra fuel bill and your anxiety levels become very high. That is the reality of it.’ » | Jonathan Petre and Paul Cagalan | Saturday, October 19, 2013