Dear David: day ONE of 20

Day ONE of TWENTY: it seems there may be something wrong with the price of heating OIL again…

You’ll remember when we had our meeting in May you said: “what a brilliant group, how do I join?” You then went on to explain that actually you couldn’t because your Oxfordshire home is no longer heated by OIL. You were pretty clear that one of the reasons for this switch was related to the pricing structure.

It was of course this subject that lead to our initial correspondence two winters ago. That was when the pricing structure of heating OIL went berserk and the supply market was in complete disarray. The Sunday Times wrote what it considered to be two exposes, under pressure from groups like ours Charles Hendry and other MPs raised the issue in The House, the OFT’s enquiry was brought forward and there was an awful lot of noise about an industry that has its own unique and extremely complex set of issues. The issue of profiteering was fiercely debated as prices rose by over ten and then twenty and then beyond thirty pence per litre within the month of December – ending up at over 70% above the wholesale price.

Q: two years on and I have to ask has anything really changed?

A: there seems to be something wrong with prices once again. Over the last four working days there has been an obvious and concerning deviation from the wholesale price. How do we know that? Simple, our price harvesting in some areas shows the market average across all suppliers has gone up by as much as 3 pence per litre, but the wholesale price is lower this week than it has been since 5th November 2012 and over the last two days it has dropped further, down by nearly a penny, something that would normally be reflected in a drop in heating OIL prices within 48 hours. Is a drop likely to occur this week? Possibly most worryingly of all is that when we asked some of our friendlier depot owners why prices were going up we were told it was because the prices they pay were going up. Perhaps we should be asking if the suppliers are not the ones making the additional margin then who is?

David, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to change the way they heat their home, 1.7 million homes are dependent on this energy source after all. Today we have been told that the “era of austerity” is to be extended into 2018 and this is exacerbating the problem. Don’t those that are truly struggling with their bills deserve to have us work on their behalf to ensure prices are transparent and feel confident that they are not being preyed on as they were two years ago?

There are twenty days from today until Christmas Eve. I will be updating you daily and posting these updates and transparent price information on my blog every day at www.community-buying.com.

As my MP I look forward to discussing this with you in the constituency at your earliest convenience.

Keep warm!