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 684.

    On the local news last night we had a new small local power station open in Lincolnshire producing power from hay another one is to open in the county soon. It looks like energy is going to have to be local in the future because of the costs of transporting gas etc. Hay powered stations are expensive at the moment but will get cheaper according to the chap on the news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    This is a cartel. The only solution is for a regulator with muscle to set a price which is based on the wholesale price + levies + a margin. If they want to make more profit they have to do it the right way i.e. make themselves more efficient, not hike the price in a closed market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    672. anotherPen
    Closing down the domestic gas supply over a few years – everybody switching to electricity – save billions.

    Just when you think you've read the stupidest post it's possible to write, up pops a beauty like this. Before the latest ripoff price hikes, UK gas cost 0.0445 euros/kWh, electricity cost 0.171 euros/kWh. Electricity is four times more expensive to produce and deliver!

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    smilereg 660
    wood produces 0.04gwh of power eco brigade shoud suport as the co2 would de adsorbed by trees not used in the power cycle around 15 years reducing co2

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    671. All this criticism is all very well and good but at least the bloke as far as he can is trying to do something about it. Millibands backtrack could not reverse the reaction from the power companies, what a mess that was. If Dave is not the answer then certainly the two Eds are not either. It is no coincidence that two of the poorest Towns in the UK are Labour supporting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    Clegg seems indecisive and has a short-term view. Cameron has long-term in mind but short-term pain. Miliband knows jack squat about anything really.

    I'd have hoped for intervention and proposals to regulate the sector, but to approach with caution as well. As I've seen from other posts and agree with, the best we can do for now is to shop around and find times when we can maybe cut the odd hour

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    Now bend over Nicky and let Uncle Davey give you a good thrashing, you know he will do anything rather than let his and Georgy's rich mates in the energy rackateer business pay anything, as usual we will be the one's paying at least until some leader has the guts to re-nationalise

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    Yeah, but on the positive side my solar panels made 11k/W today which is about £1.65 income, to offset against my leccy use which is about £1.22 this time of year. Not using gas until November and long may the sun shine, I say.

    On the other hand Scottish Power just put up its prices... nope, can't win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    Cameron has used the Green Levy as a distraction from the main event - the profiteering by the Energy Companies. As Milliband pointed out, bills fell when he was in office and levies were raised to their present level by Cameron's Govt. Dave's tantrum in parliament was because he had been caught out. He'll do anything rather than tax fairly, or, indeed, run the country to benefit all the people.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 674.

    Clearly theres a case for nationalisation on both sides. After hearing our favourite cartels pleas regarding their recent price rises it seems the industry isn't very proftable and over regulated. It’s a wonder they don't cut their loses and walk away. I hear a BG chief exec has even had to move to the Caymen Islands just to cut down on his heating bills. Hard times for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    In the long run commodity prices (including energy and food) will rise due to increasing demand from developing countries.

    We can tinker at the edges (a freeze here, a cut in levies here) but, without increased supply, increases are inevitable.

    The only solution is to increase supply. What economic model is best to achieve this can be debated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    Part of the high cost of energy is supplying it to customers in their own homes. Closing down the domestic gas supply over a few years – everybody switching to electricity – would save billions. It would also save gas, disruption and lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    All he's doing is robbing Peter to pay Paul the levy will still get paid but now it will be from general taxation so we will still be paying regardless so I can't see what all the fuss is about?, the reality is though that "Dave" has no idea what he's doing & has no empathy for the common folk, he also has little idea of the power industry which is a very serious issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    The thing about energy and water is you have to have it otherwise you die. Suppliers know this and that if they keep their prices more or less the same as other suppliers they can charge what they like - subject to not killing off too many customers - and there will be an optimum number of deaths that maximise profits - it's a matter of arithmetic to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    Green levies on gas/electric are trivial in comparison to levies on petrol/diesel.

    Perhaps if transport duty/levies/taxes were not so high, currently approx 75% of price, then public could better afford household energy bills.

    Also, transport fuel levies have added considerable inflation to costs of living, across the board.

    The biggest abuse of energy is by government, no-one else

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    The solution is to diversify to different energy sources, which hopefully, will allow supply to outstrip/exceed demand and consumers can pick & choose, which type of energy they want and at what cost. So long as demand exceeds supply & energy is not efficient, the trend will continue. Therefore, govt & the Regulator (OFGEM) need to intervene to keep costs down and reasonable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    Cameron believes that by reducing the green levies, energy companies will follow and reduce our bills by the same amount. Does Cameron believe he can force prices down but Milliband cannot freeze them? Many hundreds of people will be losing their jobs, benefits will go up, free meals increase, tax payments down. If our bills came down a few pounds, other charges would go up to cover the cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    We need to introduce a cap on the profits that these companies are alloud to make, the energy companies just dee it's customers as cash cows for be squeezed for there shareholders. What are they going to do when the market colapses because no body can afford to pay their bills?

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Can you imagine the state we had been in if this no mark had gone into Government with Brown, food banks, there would have been whole towns on it.


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