Soaring energy bills could mean more cuts for Wakefield Council’s services

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Soaring energy bills will result in deeper cuts to Wakefield Council’s services, warned leader Coun Peter Box.

Coun Box told a full council meeting on Wednesday that a 10 per cent increase in energy and water bills would reduce the council’s service budget by £500,000 a year.

And the ‘big six’ energy companies have already announced plans to raise prices by an average of eight per cent.

Coun Box said: “We need to lobby government in response to these companies, who are quite frankly ripping off the public.

“There has been a lot of debate about the energy and water costs and the impact on families who are already finding things tough.

“And it is not just members of the public but this authority as well.”

Coun Box criticised Yorkshire Water, claiming it made operating profits of £331m last year while not paying any corporation tax.

He added: “This is outrageous. Action needs to be taken quickly. Families right the way through this district are feeling the impact of these rising costs.”

The council announced in February it would have to cut 120 jobs and raise council tax to save £46m over two years.

And it was faced with needing to save another 10 per cent in the summer when Chancellor George Osborne announced further cuts to local authority budgets.

Coun Box added: “There’ll be some serious decisions to be made and there’ll be some a worse service in many areas because of these decisions.”

Electricity, gas and water bill increases are expected to outstrip inflation until 2030, to pay for infrastructure projects.

And government watchdog the National Audit Office said “gaps” in the official analysis meant government could not be sure how affordable it would be for people.

Yorkshire Water insisted it complied with tax laws.

In a statement, it said: “Yorkshire Water makes a massive contribution to the regional economy, investing more than £1m a day to improve drinking water quality, bathing water quality and to help ensure communities are better protected from flooding. The tax rules were designed by government to encourage this investment in infrastructure.”