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

    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

    Comment number 203.

    168.Skittler: Sorry but it isn't Green Levies ruining everything, its the Greed of Corporations and Banksters in cahoots with Energy companies thats putting bills up, not Green Initiatives, we need to look after our Planet and people not the interests of banks and Corps, lets get it in perspective? Sorry, this is a harsh reality, our economy is the ruin of everything that makes us alive and human

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    The energy companies must be delighted that they have successfully diverted discussion of rising prices into a debate about green levies. Meanwhile their profits soar with implicit government approval. From 2008 to 2012 Centrica (trades as British Gas) revenues rose by 15% but operating profits are up 37%. In 2012 operating margin increased 1% which adds >£200m to profits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Does Clegg actually understand English?

    A levy and a tax are essentially the same thing. Changing the name won't help reduce the costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    FACT - the biggest tax/cost to UK population is NOT this paltry green tax on energy, but the fuel duty escalator on petrol/diesel explicitly designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transport sector.

    Government still make £BILLIONS each year from this, due to previous hikes in prices due to this tax, I wouldnt put trust in these two talking about green olives, let alone green levies

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Mr Nick Clegg says a lot but precious little seems to result from it. So please Mr Clegg can we have some action or please shut up

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Do you trust the Contractors who build this Nuclear Power Plant to do a proper job ?
    Do you believe they won't cut corners, to make a couple of extra Dollars ? (Shurely Euro's and Yuan)
    Behold Winged Porkers are flying in formation over number Ten !
    Property prices are going to drop, all those right bankers with holiday homes will lose out, no they're aren't building it near them.
    Monopoly UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Surely in depends on how the 'green tax' is spent. If it buys insulation or LED light bulbs or double glazing or efficient boliers or research into making better houses, cheap solar panels or fusion reactors then there will be a payback. Like it or not we really do have to manage our limited fossil fuel resources, or we'll be hopelessly tied in to the metaphorical payday lender of energy poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    @ JamesStGeorge (157)
    You say "What happened to polluter pays? You use the energy you pay for it polluting... Big house, hot house, big bills, rich pay. Small house, cool house, poorer pay less"

    That's not how it works at all. Rich people don't pollute more as you suggest. Often it is the poorest people who can't afford modern housing, cavity wall insulation, double glazing etc who use more fuel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    @ 183 in response

    Recent article on this site re recent rises being announced by British Gas said overall profit margin for the Energy Companies is approx £65 per household per annum. Might not seem much but multiply that by every household/business and I wouldn't sneeze at it even if I did have to share it with a few friends and shareholders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    What we need is more competition.

    More competition in Politics...

    Seriosuly, when will we have a party that isn't in the pockets of big businesses? Who actually wants to better the country and not just get filthy rich?

    We need to stop being armchair critics. If we want change, we've got to go out there and change it ourselves...

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    'If you have a solar voltaic panel on your roof you can generate your own electricity for next to nothing in fact you may even be able to sell it
    So the energy companies then can’t hold you to ransom"
    Apart from the fact that energy company controls the price you can sell it to them, which is also a fraction of the price they sell it to you at, so yes can still hold you to ransom

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    I'm amazed: I never thought I would want to see the back of a politician more than Bush Jr but Cameron has managed it rather easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Here are the facts that contradict what Cameron and Clegg are claiming:

    Wholesale prices are down. Green levies are tiny. Profits are huge.

    The energy co's, who fund the Tories, are thieving money from your pocket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Well Nick Clegg has principles but if you don`t like them don`t worry he has others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Cont from post 163

    Green levies are part of a larger funding package for sustainable energy investment, along with funding from foreign investors and pension funds.

    And keeping up that investment is what distinguishes that coalitions energy policy from Labours. Some people might be suffering with high bills now, but we will all suffer in 5-10 year time if the lights start going out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    The Pie chart omits profit !!!!!!!!!
    No it doesn't; "other supplier costs/margins".
    What did you think the margin was?

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    'If you have a solar voltaic panel on your roof you can generate your own electricity for next to nothing in fact you may even be able to sell it
    So the energy companies then can’t hold you to ransom'
    But if they abolish the feed-in tariff, as the energy companies would like them to do as part of this 'review', there's no real payback on the capital costs of domestic solar power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.


    Of course the fact the green levies are an utter waste of your money does not bother you.

    It bothers me.


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