The Sunday Mail interviewed Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, about energy price hikes in the UK. Welby is a former oil industry executive.
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.’
He said: ‘They have control because they sell something everyone has to buy. We have no choice about buying it.
‘With that amount of power comes huge responsibility to serve society. It is not like some other sectors of business where people can walk away from you if they don’t want to buy your product and you are entitled to seek to maximise your profit.
‘The social licence to operate of the energy companies is something they have to take very, very seriously indeed.’
… suppliers all say they have to put up bills in the face of rising costs. SSE summed up the position, saying: ‘We regret having to put our prices, but the cost of supplying energy is going up: buying it, delivering it to homes and the cost of government taxes all cost more than last year and are outside our direct control.’ Archbishop Welby, who worked for French firm Elf Aquitaine and London-based Enterprise Oil before becoming a vicar in Coventry, said he did not have enough evidence to know if the suppliers were too quick to pass on wholesale rises, but slow to pass on price falls.
The Sunday Mail notes The Church of England has substantial investments in energy firms.
Some contend the evidence that the price hikes are unjustified are not confirmed by the data.