Julie Elliot, Shadow energy and climate change minister, said that despite what the deputy prime minister might say, energy bills have risen by £300 under the coalition’s watch.
“You can’t trust a word Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems say,” Elliot declared.
“This desperate attempt to distance himself from the government can’t disguise the fact that on this government’s watch investment in clean energy has collapsed, carbon emissions increased more in the UK than anywhere else in the EU last year, and it was the Liberal Democrats who blocked a decarbonisation target to clean up Britain’s power supply.”
She added that promises that the coalition will be “greenest government” have clearly been broken and now families are facing some of the highest energy costs on record.
Energy costs out of control?
With the majority of the big six hiking prices ahead of the winter, it is no surprise that energy costs are now one the main expenditures for families. Indeed, research from the Office for National Statistics has shown that energy bills and rent now account for 26% of household income.
Speaking after British Gas announced it will be increasing its prices for 12 million customers by an average of £100 per year, Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy explained that a winter of price hikes could be the nail in the coffin for British finances.
She believes that rising costs are also hard to justify, with the big six continuing to make high profits. The amount made by the top energy companies from the UK’s average household has doubled in the space of the last year.
“It’s hard to justify high profits when rising bills mean that many families have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table,” Guy said.
“Energy firms must keep price rises to a minimum and make sure that any drops in wholesale costs are passed on to customers.”
However, it seems there is little the government can do to get prices under control. Energy secretary Ed Davey recently claimed that there are some factors that simply cannot be overcome by the coalition and rises are “impossible to avoid”. He has stressed that the increase in wholesale gas prices are behind the price hikes – something that officials are unable to mediate.
A failed green promise?
Despite attempts by the coalition to increase the UK’s green energy generation and usage, Elliot is not the only one criticising the government’s environmental policies.
Construction company Carillion has come down heavily on the Green Deal – the headline scheme employed by David Cameron to make the residential sector more sustainable.
The firm claims demand has not materialised so far, with just 700 households taking out loans under the scheme. Just 12 installations have been completed to date as part of Green Deal, despite the fact the government expected a sign-up rate of 10,000 by the end of 2013.