Billy and Tracee are working to rule in their beds at home this morning, in support of their action for a 24 per cent salary increase and changes to their working conditions, including only working when they feel like it.
This leaves me, Andy, in charge of news and I have been leafing through websites and newsfeeds since dawn. I found this. If you wondered what happened to your savings this festive season, the NTI newsroom can help. Today (Thursday 22 December) the UK Government has admitted that it is providing up to £4.5 billion of our money to Octopus Energy to support the purchase of failed electricity supplier Bulb. The writing was on the badly lit wall more than a year ago, when the hapless organisation was initially supported via a £1.69 billion taxpayer loan (we say 'loan' ...), making it the biggest bailout since the rescues of Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS during the financial crisis of 2008-09.
If you are going down, you may as well do it properly, and Bulb were all over that. Teneo, who had the honour of leading the company through special administration, now tell us that this £4.5 billion is in addition to the galactic-sized assistance already provided to a company that led every way in demonstrating how not to run an energy company. The UK’s fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, estimated in November that the total bill for taxpayers of the Bulb bailout could reach £6.5 billion, which has to much of a rounded down ring to it. We wonder how much we will finally spend on that little project?
The Government contests these numbers, whilst juggling with 308 sectors and organisations who have decided that two days before Christmas is a convenient time to go on strike. The Department of Business insists that the £4.5 billion post-acquisition support was an “estimated upper limit” and that the “extent of Government support could be lower than £4.5 billion, depending on energy prices this winter”. Well, as energy prices this winter travel north to Lapland, taking in the aurora borealis along the way, you can see why observers consider the Government doesn't have a clue what it is talking about. That, and the fact that it hasn't had a clue what it has been talking about for six prime ministers now.
Teneo seem fine with it, but Bulb’s acquisition by Octopus has proved highly contentious with rivals Centrica, Eon and ScottishPower, which last month sought judicial reviews of the Government’s decision in October this year to approve the acquisition. Octopus are a bit miffed at all the whingeing, insisting that now (at least) £4.5 billion has been spent by us on the rescue of Bulb, this will spell an end to the exposure of us all to high costs of rescue ...
... it having already been expensively achieved.