A written answer for Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s department revealed that the increase for gas and electricity used to heat and light prisons went up from just above £56 million in 2017/18 to almost 70 million in 2021/22, the tax year ending 31 March. The huge hike in the annual cost is set to rocket even further with bills going up around the country again this year with the cost of living crisis.
The increase for prisons has to be picked up by the British taxpayer who is already also forking out for bills rising in their own homes.
Last month Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that each household would get £400 off energy bills to help with the rising costs.
But the typical energy bill is set to rise by £800 on average in October per household bringing the cost to an average of £2,800.
But the cost is also going to rise at a similar rate to provide heating and lighting for Britain’s prison population of about 80,000 in England and Wales, 7,500 in Scotland and just over 1,300 in Northern Ireland according to 2021 figures.
The increase over the last four years in gas and electricity costs was revealed in a written answer by Conservative justice minister Victoria Atkins responding to a question from Labour’s shadow justice secretary Steve Reed.
She said: “There are four prisons that do not utilise gas as a main heating source; the costs for other fuel sources cannot be extracted within incurring a disproportionate cost.
“The design of new prisons has gone through an intensive “greening” process with the twin objectives of delivering buildings that are both Net Zero Carbon Ready and achieve a BREEAM Outstanding environmental rating.”
Her answer showed that from 2017 to 2022 the cost of electricity went from £35,145,237 to £44,420,196 while gas rose from £21,019,436 to £25,556,790.
The total went from £56,164,673 to £69,976,986.
A spokesman for Steve Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “This bungling Tory Government’s chronic mismanagement of the prison estate and the Downing Street-made energy crisis has left taxpayers footing larger and larger bills to keep the lights on in prisons.
“Only Labour can deliver the long-term energy plan to cut bills, tackle the climate crisis, and deliver energy security for our country.”
A poll by Techne UK for Express.co.uk last week revealed that energy bills were the top priority for voters for Boris Johnson to deal with to save his job as Prime Minister.
Of the 1,624 respondents 36 percent said energy bill reductions and 32 percent tax cuts as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.