'£80 cost' of hidden taxes to combat climate change

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The Independent Online

Households are typically being charged more than £80 a year in hidden taxes to help combat the impact of climate change, research suggested today.

The average household pays £84 a year in hidden taxes on their energy bills and the figure looks set to rise, according to price comparison website uSwitch.com.

The group warned that mounting pressures could see these taxes double during the coming 10 years to reach £176 a year.

Environmental levies such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Renewables Obligation currently make up 7% of energy bills.

But the group said policies launched under the previous government are expected to add further taxes worth 6% of gas and electricity bills during the coming 10 years, bringing the total to £156 a year.

The Treasury is also thought to be considering an additional levy to electricity bills, which would add a further £10 to £20.

Many people are unhappy about the environmental levies, with 44% saying the commitment towards cutting carbon emissions and moving to greener energy sources has to be balanced with the impact on people's fuel bills.

Three out of 10 people also thought that the cost should be shared by the Government, industry, business and consumers.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: "Environmental levies are going to account for a growing and substantial part of our bills and will in turn play a growing and substantial part in pushing the cost of our energy up.

"If consumers are to be expected to meet these costs then there has to be clarity over what these hidden taxes are for, a cap set on how much consumers will end up paying and transparency over how the levies are being applied.

"If the levies are applied proportionately they will act as an incentive for households to cut their energy consumption. If not, then the industry will be sending out a very mixed message to consumers."

:: YouGov questioned 2,146 people during February.

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