Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has just been on BBC Breakfast talking about the deal that the Government has reached with energy companies which will save many households £100 a year on their bills. Under the plan, consumers would be written to annually and told if a different tariff would save them money.
Nick explained that seven out of ten households were paying too much because they were on the wrong tariff and this idea would save them money. He acknowledged that this alone would not solve all the problems in the energy market but he said that the Government had already introduced the Warm Home Discount for the most vulnerable pensioners and the Green Deal which will encourage proper insulation to reduce overall energy consumption. He pointed out how we all, families, households and businesses alike, need to be more aware of the energy we use.
He also mentioned other ideas the Government was considering to encourage people to switch energy providers, including collective switching, where an intermediary would negotiate on behalf of a large group of people with the energy companies to get the best deal. He acknowledged that the current system, with over 120 tariffs, was incredibly complex and confusing.
Nick was asked about the huge bonus awarded to the boss of Centrica at the same time was it was imposing huge rises in energy prices for ordinary people and he highlighted another Government initiative to give shareholders more clout on those matters.
I thought that he was very clear on a number of initiatives that the Government was taking to help out ordinary people with fuel costs. Where I think he could have improved was to take more credit for the Liberal Democrats. It’s our party which has taken the initiative on most if not all of the ideas outlined above, and I feel that he should be shouting that from the rooftops rather than leaving others to do it for him. These ideas have been brought to reality by Liberal Democrat ministers – Chris Huhne and his successor Ed Davey at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Vince Cable at Business, Innovation and Skills. If we don’t speak up about our achievements, about the added value the Liberal Democrats bring to the Government, nobody else will.