Coalition parties split over energy companies’ green obligations
Cable warns against ‘short-sighted and foolish’ decisions
David Cameron has ordered a review of green energy taxes as a way of easing the pressure on “squeezed” families amid claims the levies add more than £100 to an average annual bill.
But his move has triggered fresh Coalition tensions, with Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, warning it would be “very short-sighted and foolish” to scrap environmentally-friendly policies.
The Independent disclosed that senior Tories were sympathetic to scrapping or diluting the Energy Companies Obligation under which the “Big Six” suppliers are required to pay for energy efficiency measures for lower-income homes.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed the Government was looking “across the board” at ways of cutting household bills.
Asked if the green levies were being reviewed, he said: “You would expect us, when family budgets are under pressure, to be looking at ways of whether or not more can be done to help them. That is what the Government will be doing.”
The spokesman said Mr Cameron was clear the measures, aimed at boosting renewable energy production, “should not be there for a second longer than they need to”.
The issue of the cost of energy has climbed up the political agenda since Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, promised a 19-month price freeze if his party wins the next general election.
The energy supplier SSE this week announced a rise of up to 10 per cent in its prices. The move is expected to be followed by steep increases by the other major suppliers – Centrica, E.ON, EDF, Scottish Power and npower.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, the chief executive of SSE, called for a debate on environmental levies. He said: “If we carry on firmly behind the green agenda, we will continue to have price increases like this.”
SSE argues that gas and electricity bills would drop by £110 per household if green energy subsidies and the cost of other schemes, such as free loft insulation, were met through general taxation rather than energy prices.
Mr Cable made no attempt yesterday to deny the Government was split over whether to scale back green levies.
“It is a continuing argument in the coalition, because Liberal Democrats have been arguing that we need to maintain a long-term priority towards a less carbon-based and polluting economy,” he told the BBC.
“What we shouldn't be doing is scrapping our environmental policies. That would be very short-sighted and foolish.”
Caroline Flint, the shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “We must always be vigilant about the impact of Government policy on people's energy bills. But investment in new sources of clean energy and energy efficiency will bring down bills in the future.
“It would be wrong to let energy companies off the hook by scrapping obligations on them, while doing nothing to stop them overcharging people. Britain’s energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses.”
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Lynda Bellingham dead: Loose Women presenter dies after battle with colon cancer
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
'Russian submarine spotted' by Swedish military off coast of Stockholm
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Hurricane Gonzalo: When will it hit the UK and how strong will it be?
Oscar Pistorius sentence: Athlete's wealth and notoriety provoke an overdue debate on South African prisons
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...