Ed Davey’s annual energy statement today “lacked real solutions” for rising energy bills and hard-pressed householders in the country.
That’s according to environmental campaigners and consumer groups who made it clear they weren’t happy with the Energy Secretary despite his plans to hold a competition review on the UK’s energy market and make switching easier for consumers – cutting it down to 24 hours from the five weeks it currently takes.
Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: “Promoting easier switching is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The real solutions – massive investment in energy efficiency and a rapid switch to renewables – are conspicuous by their absence from ministers’ plans.”
She said blocking a clean power target meant Davey was “more dormouse than a tiger” when it comes to fighting for the environment. The Energy Secretary said earlier in the week he would “fight like a tiger” to stop green levies being cut.
Consumer body Which? added there will be “no great applause” from consumers.
Executive Director Richard Lloyd said: “Structural reforms to separate the wholesale energy market from domestic supply and the Government cutting the costs its policies add to consumers’ bills are needed to effectively keep prices in check.”
Ofgem however welcomed the Government’s announcement and said its reforms for a “simpler, clearer and fairer” market already makes it easier for consumers to choose a better energy deal.
Chief Executive Andrew Wright said: “Rules to ensure suppliers treat you fairly are already in place and further reforms are in hand to give clearer information, including putting your suppliers’ cheapest deal on your bill. We are also continuing to look at new ways to build on our transparency reforms to ensure the energy market is as open as possible.”
The trade body for the energy industry added power suppliers “have nothing to hide”.
A spokesperson from Energy UK said: “Energy companies have kept government fully informed of the work already underway to cut switching times dramatically while making sure customers’ consumer rights are protected. Already around quarter of a million customers switch every month proving it is not only possible but easy.”
Mr Davey didn’t go into much detail about Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to “roll back” green levies, except that the Government is looking at “whether levies should be on bills or on taxes”.
The manufacturers’ organisation EEF said the “uncompetitive” green levies and rising energy prices are impacting the growth of the UK’s industry.
Chief Executive Terry Scuoler said: “EEF has long argued that the energy costs associated with manufacturing in the UK put us at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world, hampering the sector’s ability to thrive and continue playing a key role in rebalancing the economy.”