Labour blasts Tories in call for en­ergy re­form

Fuel poverty: Claims Con­ser­va­tives’ tar­iff price cap is just a ‘stick­ing plas­ter’

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Har­riet line

Labour has claimed four mil­lion house­holds in fuel poverty will face a win­ter of “cold homes or as­tro­nom­i­cal bills” be­cause the Govern­ment dithered in­tro­duc­ing a price cap on en­ergy tar­iffs.

Shadow en­ergy sec­re­tary Re­becca Long-bai­ley asked Greg Clark why it had taken “so long” for the cap to be in­tro­duced.

She crit­i­cised the pro­pos­als, out­lined in draft leg­is­la­tion pub­lished yes­ter­day, for be­ing a “stick­ing plas­ter” and said “rad­i­cal re­form of the mar­ket” was nec­es­sary.

Fol­low­ing a state­ment from the en­ergy sec­re­tary in the Com­mons, Ms Long-bai­ley said: “Due to the Govern­ment’s dither­ing, the four mil­lion house­holds in fuel poverty – al­most one mil­lion of which in­cludes a dis­abled per­son – will now face an­other win­ter of cold homes or as­tro­nom­i­cal bills.”

She said Labour had been call­ing for a price cap “for a num­ber of years”, but said more clar­ity was still needed de­spite the leg­is­la­tion.

Ms Long-bai­ley asked Mr Clark to con­firm whether the cap would be rel­a­tive or ab­so­lute, how long the pas­sage of the Bill would take, and by how much he ex­pected house­hold bills to be re­duced.

She then asked: “Does the sec­re­tary of state ac­cept that a price cap, although wel­come, is only a stick­ing plas­ter and rad­i­cal re­form of the mar­ket is nec­es­sary?”

Mr Clark said he hoped the Bill would get “ur­gent pre-leg­isla­tive scru­tiny” from the busi­ness, en­ergy and in­dus­trial strat­egy select com­mit­tee to al­low the leg­is­la­tion to pro­ceed quickly.

He also called on en­ergy com­pa­nies to move peo­ple off ex­pen­sive tar­iffs, say­ing: “It is open now to the en­ergy com­pa­nies, and Ofgem them­selves have been very clear that they ex­pect the com­pa­nies to move peo­ple off th­ese stan­dard vari­able tar­iffs which have been iden­ti­fied as over­charg­ing so they should do that whilst this leg­is­la­tion is in place.”

Mr Clark also told MPS: “I am de­ter­mined that we will be on the side of all con­sumers and en­sure that the mar­ket can be­come more ef­fec­tive.

“Our goal is to en­sure a fair deal, so the mar­ket has cur­rently not de­liv­ered this and that is why the en­ergy com­pa­nies and Ofgem need to act, but it’s also pre­cisely for this rea­son that we’re pub­lish­ing this draft Bill to­day.”

Lib­eral Demo­crat MP Sir Ed Davey, a for­mer en­ergy sec­re­tary, said he re­ceived ad­vice in govern­ment that such a price cap could mean higher en­ergy bills for the most vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers.

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