Miliband: Gas price crisis shows “we haven’t gone green quickly enough”

Elliot Chappell

Ed Miliband has argued that rising energy bills fuelled by the global increase in gas prices shows that “we haven’t gone green quickly enough” and accused Conservative governments of not doing enough to shift away from fossil fuel dependency.

In a Sky News interview, the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary said: “If we had more renewables on our system, like onshore wind, if we had nuclear, if we had done more on energy fuel efficiency we would not be so exposed to this gas price crisis.

“And so, the more dependent we are on fossil fuels, the more we’re at risk of these ups and downs, which we’re always going to get on the international market and always have.”

After the government announced that the energy price cap will rise to £1,971 in April, an increase of £693 for the average household, Rishi Sunak set out plans to mitigate the impact in a House of Commons statement on Thursday.

Unveiling the measures, Sunak told parliament: “It is not sustainable to keep holding the price of energy artificially low. For me to stand here and pretend we don’t have to adjust to paying higher prices would be wrong and dishonest.”

The Chancellor outlined a package he said is worth £9bn. The measures include a so-called “discount” on energy bills of £200, to be repaid in £40 instalments via bills over the next five years, a council tax rebate for some households and a discretionary fund for local authorities of nearly £150m.

Miliband told viewers this morning that the government is compounding the problem by “not acting at the scale the crisis demands” and described the package put forward by the Chancellor on Thursday as “wholly inadequate”.

Labour accused the Chancellor on Thursday of choosing to “shield” oil and gas companies with the government’s “buy now, pay later” scheme for addressing rising household energy bills, the party warned “loads up costs for tomorrow”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has called the announcement from Sunak “hopelessly inadequate” and “poorly targeted”, pointing out that it represents “just £7 a week” for “most families” and “more than half must be paid back”.

Boris Johnson wrote in The Sun during the Brexit campaign, alongside Michael Gove, that leaving the EU would allow the UK government to scrap the “unfair and damaging” VAT on household energy bills.

But Sunak argued on Thursday that a VAT cut would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households” and there is “no guarantee” suppliers would pass on the discount. He also said it would become a permanent government subsidy.

In light of the 54% rise in the energy price cap, Tory MP Stephen McPartland said the Treasury support was “welcome” but “lacks ambition” and represents a “missed opportunity by Rishi Sunak to support families courageously”.

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