Women and Equalities
John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings, Conservative)
Rising energy prices are a cause for concern in these difficult times, particularly for those vulnerable consumers who struggle to meet their bills. I am profoundly concerned and disappointed to hear of the recent energy price rises, and I will be seeking to discuss them with the relevant suppliers as a matter of urgency.
My Department has already taken a number of different actions to assist consumers with their bills. Programmes such as the carbon emissions reduction target, Warm Front, the green deal and the energy company obligation will make homes more energy efficient. In addition, the warm home discount will provide no less than £1.1 billion of support up to 2015 to help 2 million low-income and vulnerable households annually.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday, I am pleased to confirm that we will be bringing forward legislation to help energy consumers to get the best deal. We have already regulated, we have plans to improve competition and simplify tariffs in the retail market process, and we will improve liquidity and competition in the wholesale market, through the Energy Bill, in weeks rather than months. A number of options are being considered. For example, the voluntary agreement with energy suppliers announced in April secured a number of measures which will be evaluated to see whether we should make the legislation binding. This is a complicated area, and we will have discussions with the industry, consumer groups and the regulator in order to work through the detail.