Autumn Statement offers cold comfort for households and businesses struggling with rising energy bills

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December 5, 2013

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The Autumn Statement today offers cold comfort for households and businesses struggling with rising energy bills.

For hard-pressed consumers reeling from 30% rises in energy bills over the past three years, the Chancellor confirmed he would provide help to cut bills by less than a pound a week.

The average £50 annual bill-saving measures are, as the Department of Energy & Climate Change advises:

  • Establishing a rebate saving the average customer £12 on their bill, for the next two years, worth a total of £600 million. The Warm Homes Discount will continue to help millions of vulnerable households receive a £135 rebate off their energy bill.
  • Reducing the cost of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), an insulation scheme delivered by major energy suppliers. This will result in £30-£35 off bills, on average, next year. The existing dedicated support in ECO for low income and vulnerable households will be maintained and extended from March 2015 until March 2017.
  • In addition, electricity distribution network companies are willing to take voluntary action to reduce network costs in 2014/15. This would allow a further one-off reduction of an average of around £5 on electricity bills, which energy suppliers will be able to pass on to their customers as well.

There are also new measures aiming to boost energy efficiency by introducing new schemes for home-movers, landlords and public sector buildings, worth £540 million over three years.

The Government will also increase the funds available to local authorities this year through Green Deal Communities from £20 million to £80 million, to help support ‘street-by-street’ programmes for hard-to-treat homes in a cost-effective way, and will keep the Green Deal cashback scheme open.

We hope that the Green Deal enjoys more success in the coming years than it has currently and welcome any attempt to reduce energy (and water) consumption.

But it is clear that consumers and companies throughout the UK will have to take unaided steps to cut consumption of energy and water. The Chancellor, the Coalition and the energy companies – the Big Six have no taste for bold action.

From their side, perhaps this makes short-term sense. After all, cutting the annual bill for a typical home through simple steps by around £600 means millions of pounds lost to the Big Six and lower revenues from VAT.

These steps are trusted and have been measured. They do deliver – from LED lighting to water (and heat) savings through installation of eco shower heads, eco taps and tap aerators.

The point is that, even without effective Government support and promotion, consumers and companies have to cut their consumption of energy and water. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when”. Every delay in acting adds to cost of bills, which are guaranteed to rise above the rate of inflation.

Across the energy spectrum, the Autumn Statement has been greeted with huge disappointment. George Osborne has missed an opportunity through a narrow focus and short-term contingencies.

The strong reaction to the Autumn Statement is well covered by Blue & Green Tomorrow and well worth a look, with strident calls for the Government to get a real grip on energy policy and develop long-term, effective strategies that benefit consumers and businesses.

If you want to act now to cut your utility bills, call us on 08333 123 5464.

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