Cameron’s energy rollback a kneejerk reaction to Labour suggests MP

A Lib Dem MP has suggested the Government’s changes to an energy saving scheme to trim household energy bills was a kneejerk reaction to Labour’s pledge to freeze fuel bills. […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A Lib Dem MP has suggested the Government’s changes to an energy saving scheme to trim household energy bills was a kneejerk reaction to Labour’s pledge to freeze fuel bills.

Last December, the Government cut the amount of cash taken from household bills to fund insulation in vulnerable homes in the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

This was after Prime Minister David Cameron promised to “roll back” the green levies on bills.

Yesterday in a debate about the effect of changes to the ECO scheme, MP John Pugh said the results left him “increasingly in despair – and not just because I’m a Lib Dem.”

Instead of squarely blaming the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition, he threw some of the blame onto Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills if they win the next election.

Mr Pugh said: “It seems to me that the Government is not to blame here for the problem, it’s almost an unintended consequence of the Labour fuel pledge which then led to a bit of a media panic about the green levy, which then led to a discussions between the energy companies and the Government.”

He put forward the possibility there may even have been “some tacit agreements between the Government and the Big Six,” adding: I know not. It’s certainly above my pay grade.”

He went on to bemoan that big energy companies are “reducing substantially their funding for boilers from 25p per pound in lifetime savings, now to something like 8p and dropping them very suddenly.”

Lilian Greenwood MP. Image: Parliament
Lilian Greenwood MP. Image: Parliament

Earlier Labour MP Lilian Greenwood raised some of the dismay felt by people in the South Clifton estate in Nottingham South, living in “cold damp houses with high fuel bills”, because plans for an insulation scheme are now in doubt.

Energy Minister Greg Barker broke in to say she must not “unnecessarily scare or alarm her constituents”.

He said there are “grounds for optimism” for constituents in Nottingham South after his talks with the Nottingham City Council chief executive this week and later suggested similar council-backed schemes for insulation may go ahead.

Ms Greenwood was less than impressed, retorting: “Unfortunately my constituents are both scared and alarmed however they will welcome very much the indication that he’s given there is hope for the scheme.

She added there are “many more people across Nottingham South” who don’t know whether they will get the help they need with their fuel bills.