An interesting side effect of spiralling energy bills in the UK is that a lot more people are stealing energy through a variety of ingenious means. From bypassing meters, tampering with supplies and sawing the edges off the meter cogs, an entire new industry has sprung up offering people the chance to get away without paying for their utilities.
What is the upshot of all this? Well, those who do pay their bills will have to shoulder the costs of paying for those who don't. Furthermore, they will also be saddled with the not inconsiderable cost of making the system more secure - after all, someone has to pay for it. This means electricity and gas bills will have to rise further, pushing more people into either stealing their supplies or else just cutting it off and going medieval. This in turn pushes the fixed costs of maintaining the system (including the energy companies' hunger for inflated profits) onto the ever decreasing pool of those still able to pay.
In other words, we have a positive feedback loop going on. And they never tend to end well.
'It's a difficult economic climate so more people are feeling this is the only way they can get their energy. So the trend is upwards.'
- Mark Andrews, head of revenue protection for British Gas