'Dear Mr Cameron, if you want more than to just post sticking...' blog discussion

edited 1 November 2011 at 12:56PM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
17 replies 2.8K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.




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  • tara747tara747 Forumite
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    Yay for the 100,000 signatures! Look forward to the debate.
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  • Percy1983Percy1983 Forumite
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    Good news, hope this actually gets somewhere.
    Have my first business premises (+4th business) 01/11/2017
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  • NiksanNiksan Forumite
    309 Posts
    Let's hope the chief whips don't get all moody.
  • ... that the utility services are in the private sector, when they are providing a public service. The problem is that you have to have gas and electricity. This means you have to go to one of these companies. In other words, while they claim there is choice, they have a captive market and are unlikely to go bust as not all customers will move away from them.

    It has always stumped me why they can make something so simple (unit charges for gas and electricity) so complicated. It should be a fixed price -- agreed and controlled by parliament. The view that it has to be private so infrastructure can be paid for is also a red herring -- that means those who pay proportionally more of their income to these companies are paying more for a service that is provided for the benefit of all.

    My view would be to take the utility industries (gas, electricity and water) back into public ownership, then there is full control and scrutiny over a key sector.

    But then that is to admit that the Thatcherite approach to the economy was wrong -- even though it is wrong. And if you don't believe me, look around...
  • wozearlywozearly Forumite
    202 Posts
    ... that the utility services are in the private sector, when they are providing a public service. The problem is that you have to have gas and electricity. This means you have to go to one of these companies. In other words, while they claim there is choice, they have a captive market and are unlikely to go bust as not all customers will move away from them.

    It has always stumped me why they can make something so simple (unit charges for gas and electricity) so complicated. It should be a fixed price -- agreed and controlled by parliament. The view that it has to be private so infrastructure can be paid for is also a red herring -- that means those who pay proportionally more of their income to these companies are paying more for a service that is provided for the benefit of all.

    My view would be to take the utility industries (gas, electricity and water) back into public ownership, then there is full control and scrutiny over a key sector.

    But then that is to admit that the Thatcherite approach to the economy was wrong -- even though it is wrong. And if you don't believe me, look around...

    In my opinion, its not that straightforward. Publically owned companies almost always tend to operate in a monopoly environment (there's not usually a lot of sense in introducing artificial competition when the companies would all use the same infrastructure), which gives the worst of two worlds;

    Firstly, monopolies are very rarely good for consumer interests because the odds are stacked heavily in favour of the company as the sole (or overwhelmingly dominant) producer.

    Secondly, publically owned companies are rarely run as effeciently as privately owned companies. Removing the profit motive is great in the short-term, but removing economic incentives to increase efficiency and effectiveness tends to lead to longer-term stagnation - as a general rule, people seem to be less willing to focus on this if any money saved is taken back by the government and no benefit accrues to the individuals.

    For similar reasons, publically owned companies have a greater tendency to run at a loss because they know the government will pick up the tab rather than let them fail. Royal Mail is a case in point, as were the old giants of BT and BG pre-privatisation.

    So it could be a case of having lower energy bills but higher taxation. Not necessarily ideal.

    I completely agree that the energy companies are not a good example of privatisation working well for the consumer - nor are trains. Both put through significant price increases onto an essentially captive customer base with a dizzying array of tariffs. Where customers can move around, companies seem drawn to obfuscating the way they apply their charges so that comparing things even at a simple level becomes incredibly difficult (banks, currency exchange companies, insurers - all are guilty to a fair extent, and this is one of the main reasons online comparison sites like Moneysupermarket have grown so powerful).

    That its taken OfGem this long to start addressing the confusion marketing approach around unit charges and multiple tariffs is actually quite shocking. But at least they're getting there.

    I'm just not convinced that nationalisation is necessarily the right answer...besides, the country doesn't have spare billions sloshing around to use to buy up the privatised businesses, which means either an immediate emergency tax (not going to be popular) or increasing government debt to fund it (not likely to go down well with the financial markets, and George Osborne has shown he doesn't feel that current generations should force future ones to pick up the tab for everything, which is essentially what government debt results in).
  • Wozearly said:-
    I completely agree that the energy companies are not a good example of privatisation working well for the consumer

    The government would have a hard time buying EDF. Their parent company is already state owned.

    J_B.
  • Although I agree wholeheartedly that children need financial education of the type outlined here, can you please identify which school subject must be missed out in order to add it into the curriculum?
    It is all very well to insist that schools provide education on all the topics of the day, and are accountable for all society's ills, but schools are already being pushed and pushed and pushed to deliver a broad curriculum with increasing demands on subject time, and an increasing insistance on ever improving results.
    If there is a high pregnancy rate among teenagers, schools are blamed for failing to provide adequate sex education. The same applies to drug use, knife crime and even obesity! In all these cases, schools are blamed for failing to educate children in the dangers of drugs, alcohol, knife crime, crime, healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, diet and exercise, etc etc etc. Are schools now to be held responsible for the financial well being of our society? When exactly are parents going to step up and take responsibility for their own children?
    The increasing use of League tables means that schools, and individual teachers are judged daily and very publically on their work - so please think carefully before you make their job more difficult by removing even one lesson a week for financial education. Instead, campaign for this financial education to be incorporated into an aspect of the curriculum which already exists - eg Citizenship (btw, most citizenship schemes of work do already include financial education, but not at the level of global economics which you are proposing here). Ii am not able to post a link to the details of the KS3 and 4 Citizenship curriculum, but it can be found easily at the QCDA website, and outlines exactlly what is taught and how it can be assessed.
    One of the core responsibilities of Citizenship is:
    the economy in relation to citizenship including decisions about the collection and allocation of public money

    Theis programme of study is written by people who understand the how much students are capable of understanding at different ages and stages of their life. It has been in use in schools for some time now. Before starting a new campaign, please check carefully to see what exists - and bear in mind that the students who have been exposed to this education are not yet old enough to be held responsible for the current economic climate.
  • rinabeanrinabean Forumite
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    When exactly are parents going to step up and take responsibility for their own children?

    That's a ridiculous argument. My parents "took responsibility" and taught me to read and write before I entered school - does that mean that that should be taken off the curriculum and children of "irresponsible" parents should... do what exactly? It doesn't matter if parents ought to teach their kids certain things, what matters is that most of them can't/don't. And besides, schools are there to take responsibility for the children who no-one else will take responsibility for.

    For what it's worth, for all the academic things they taught me, they didn't teach me a drop about money. I remember, when I was 16, asking if I could have a look at a utility bill, so I could learn a little about them, and they refused. Many parents have the same attitude about finances as they do about sex - that their kids are too young to know, they'll learn when they're older, it's embarrassing - which is why most people agree we need compulsory sex education in schools, and I think the same goes for financial education.

    Thanks, Martin, for this campaign. It's long overdue!
  • adamgadamg Forumite
    485 Posts
    Although I agree wholeheartedly that children need financial education of the type outlined here, can you please identify which school subject must be missed out in order to add it into the curriculum?
    All forms of Religious Education, that was easy next
    Hi, we’ve had to remove your signature. If you’re not sure why please read the forum rules or email the forum team if you’re still unsure - MSE ForumTeam
  • wozearlywozearly Forumite
    202 Posts
    Joe_Bloggs wrote: »
    Wozearly said:-

    The government would have a hard time buying EDF. Their parent company is already state owned.

    J_B.

    If we were to nationalise the energy companies, it wouldn't be necessary to buy all of EDF - it would just require buying its UK operations.

    I'm kinda conscious that this discussion is going off-topic, though, so...

    ...well done Martin for raising this up the agenda, and for everyone else who signed the petition and got it over the 100,000 mark.

    Hopefully the government will now do the right thing.
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