Nick Clegg 'disagrees' with David Cameron on 'rolling back' green levies

 

Mr Clegg said a balance must be struck between "getting bills down" and "keeping the lights on"

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David Cameron announcement that he wanted to "roll back" green levies pushing up energy bills was unexpected, Nick Clegg has said.

"It's not something that I fully agree with," the deputy prime minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

But the Lib Dem leader confirmed that the government was to look into whether its environmental policies could be delivered more cost-effectively.

They may be funded in future from taxes rather than green levies, he suggested.

He insisted that the coalition's environmental objectives "remain clear and stable".

And Downing Street later said work was under way to examine how green levies "can be rolled back from the bills" and paid for by alternative funding.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the government of coming up with a "panicked wheeze paid for by taxpayers".

'Big argument'

During his Today interview Mr Clegg said in the weeks ahead he and Mr Cameron would "stress-test all these different levies".

Start Quote

We need to help people pay their bills and we need to help to get bills down. We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills.”

End Quote Prime Minister David Cameron

"If we can deliver those objectives of keeping the lights on, insulating people's homes helping the fuel-poor, supporting the green economy for less, of course I don't want to see an extra penny go on people's bills that is absolutely necessary."

But funding for "looking after the environment, securing thousands of jobs in the renewable green sector, and... giving deductions on people's fuel bills for two million of the poorest households in our country" should not end, he argued.

This was not the biggest factor driving up energy bills, Mr Clegg added: "In fact, 60% of the increase in energy bills since 2010 have come from wholesale prices."

There was, he said, a "big argument" on energy policy, especially since Labour's announcement that it plans to freeze energy bills for 20 months if it wins the next general election.

"You've got an argument from Ed Miliband, and it is a con, by the way: his freeze would see prices go up, jobs go down, investment go down.

"And then you appear to have a new kind of theory emerging from the right of British politics, which says it is all the fault of us caring about the environment.

"I don't accept either of those propositions."

Mr Clegg also stressed that he was confident he and the prime minister could "resolve" their differences on the policy.

'Panicky U-turn'

On Wednesday at his weekly Commons question session, Mr Cameron told MPs: "We need to help people pay their bills and we need to help to get bills down.

"We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills."

What is an average energy bill made up of?

Pie chart
  • UK household dual fuel - i.e. electricity and gas - bills in 2013 are estimated to be about £1,267, based on average levels of energy consumption
  • Green energy measures make up 9% of that cost, or £112
  • Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change

The Liberal Democrats subsequently accused the PM of making a "panicky U-turn".

A senior Lib Dem source said Mr Cameron had got "cold feet" on environmental policy promises.

In a speech, Mr Miliband argued the prime minister had "lost control" of his government amid differences between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on energy policy.

He accused Mr Cameron of "weakness" and offering no solution to rising household costs, adding: "Governments have always looked at this balance but this government wants you to pick up the tab for its failure to stand up to the energy companies. That won't offer the real help that business and families need.

"They propose a panicked wheeze paid for by taxpayers. We offer a real freeze paid for by the big energy companies."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 675.

    Don't those 'green levies' pay for the cut price deals for pensioners and the very poorest as well as for 'green' forms of energy? So by cutting them we'd actually be making matters worse for those least able to cope with increased energy bills.

    Plus the energy companies will just absorb any reduction by putting up their prices. They know how much we will pay now so the prices won't go down.

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 545.

    The prevailing advice is to shop around.

    Doing this is the same as shopping around for petrol - a few pennies here or there that in no way covers the cost of the search in time and money.

    Rolling back green levies does not tackle the problem of an effective cartel that uses the “ how much can we get away with” strategy to determine pricing in their industry.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 217.

    The green levy is a complete wrong to the ordinary person if the governments of any colour wants to support renewables it should be by government subsidy & they can put it in the manifesto this levy on ordinary peoples bills is morally wrong.Joe public says no to green levies on bills Cameron needs to get rid of it & vat. Vat on an essential like energy is wrong.

  • rate this
    +83

    Comment number 204.

    If he reduces the green levies there is no way in hell the bills will go down because the energy companies will just cross off the column heading 'green levies' and rename it 'extra profit'.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 192.

    Germany has spent - wasted - £75 billion on 'green' initiatives - which have delayed global warming by 37 hours. The effect of these levies is close to zero. They are a futile and disgraceful waste of resources. They should be scrapped.

 

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