RECENTLY I was delighted to attend the National Trades Council annual general meeting at Congress House in London as a delegate from Keighley Trades Union Council. I proposed the motion submitted by Keighley TUC calling for the abolition of standing charges on utility bills.

This is an example of regressive taxation whereby all users pay the same amount irrespective of use and unduly penalises low energy users in poorer households.

The excuse is that it is to pay for the maintenance of the distribution to households. However as our motion argued, could one imagine the uproar which would be heard if you had to pay a fee to use a pump in a petrol station before filling with fuel or a had to pay to enter a supermarket before shopping for essentials?

Even the boss of Octopus Energy has commented that it is an egregious charge with the Government loading the cost of failed energy suppliers, which they failed to regulate properly, onto customers. I would go further and demand its total abolition in this time of rising bills in line with other areas of distribution. The energy companies do not to need to profit twice for the same product when such excessive profits are being made.

This can make a real difference to everyone struggling in the present cost-of-living crisis. Our resolution was passed unanimously without any criticism and will now become an essential element of the Trades Councils' programme of work nationally.

Trades councils are the place where trade unionists from different unions meet locally to agree a common view on the issues facing their individual membership. Therefore I am hopeful that the issue for a campaign for the abolition of standing charges will be raised within their respective unions and across the UK.

Only this last week Martin Lewis, the consumer champion, highlighted the issue of standing charges on his money saver website where comments can be added. My suggestion is that standing charges should be absorbed by energy providers without any increase to any tariff due to the excessive profits being made, so please add this comment to this if you agree.

Sandy MacPherson, Keighley TUC

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