Big Six Energy Price Freeze Denied by Tories
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
The Big Six Energy Companies have suggested that ministers are trying to force them into not raising prices and have openly condemned the price freeze that has been promoted by Ed Miliband. Government is already facing condemnation with the levies that have been introduced to promote greener energy sources and home improvement schemes for insulation and new boilers and have been scrambling to reduce the costs to consumers in time for the announcement of the autumn statement from George Osborne. Downing Street is looking at ways it can cut the levies on gas and electricity bills and this has caused dissention in Parliament.
In looking for ways to make energy more affordable, ministers are hoping that the cuts to be announced will reduce the household energy bills by £50 per annum. Industry sources are however making claims that David Cameronís government have been in talks with the energy companies to not increase bills any further until elections are held in mid-2015, which in effect is asking for a price freeze unless wholesale costs are increased in the interim. This is in effect exactly what Ed Miliband has pledged if his party win the election in 2015. Government has dismissed Ed Milibandís pledge as a con, and has blamed a misunderstanding for what they claim is a request to energy companies to deliver an impact report on the removal of some of the green levies already being collected via consumer accounts.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that his aim is to lower the financial constraints that some of the green levies have placed upon consumers. He further added that the only way that he could do this is to raise the level of competition between companies and remove some of the green levies, which he promised to do, and that he is making good on his promise. He also said that this should be seen as a step in the right direction. He claims that this is real policy making in action, and not an abstract promise in the distant future. He maintains that Ed Milibandís price freeze is nothing more than a con to gain votes in the next election.
Ed Miliband has accused government of public opposition to his price freeze pledge, whilst privately seeking the same thing from energy companies right now. He has stated that David Cameron and his party are weak and that the UK is in need of a strong Labour government. It is thought that George Osborne may reduce household dual fuel bills by extending the repayment period for the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) scheme to four years and by switching the aged and vulnerable subsidy to general taxation when he makes his Autumn Statement known in December.
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