At the Labour Party conference in Brighton today, Ed Miliband announced that a Labour Government would freeze energy bills through to January 2017 if they won the 2015 general election. Such a move, which would be backed by legislation, could save the average household £120 and businesses £1,800 but would cost energy suppliers up to £4.5 billion in income.
Mr Miliband claimed that the energy regulator Ofgen, had failed in its duty to protect consumers and should be abolished to be replaced by a tougher energy watchdog. He told delegates at the Labour Party conference that “when wholesale prices go up, you pay more” and when “prices come down, you still pay more”.
Repeating the phrase “Britain can do better than this” he said that the big six energy suppliers “won’t like it because it will cost them money” but he claimed that “they have been overcharging people for too long”. This is also reflected in a Which? report which suggested that energy consumers were being overcharged by approximately £3.9 billion per year. As part of the plan he would also insist that the energy generation and the retail arms of the big six energy companies would be separated, forcing them to sell energy into a pool thus opening up the market to other entrants.
Angela Knight, Chief Executive of the energy industry group gave a cool response, claiming that “freezing the bill may be superficially attractive but it will also freeze the money to build and renew new power stations, freeze the jobs and livelihoods of the 600,000 plus people dependent on the energy industry and make the prospect of energy shortages a reality, pushing prices up for everyone”.
Ed Miliband was adamant though, asking “am I better off now than I was five years ago”, a question used previously by Ronald Reagan.
But yet again, no reference was made to the Government’s ECO Affordable Warmth scheme which takes money from energy companies to pay for free energy efficient boilers and insulation for those householders receiving certain benefits. This scheme is scheduled to run until March 2015 and Gregory Barker MP (Minister of State Energy and Climate Change) claimed that it should reduce energy bills for up to 130,000 households per year suffering from ‘fuel poverty’.
If you receive State Benefits and think you may qualify for a free boiler, please complete the online application form on this website and someone will call you back to arrange a survey.