Labour blasts Tories in call for energy reform
Fuel poverty: Claims Conservatives’ tariff price cap is just a ‘sticking plaster’
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.