Liz Truss Will Step Up Energy Saving Info Campaign In Apparent U-turn
The government has confirmed that it is looking at ways of better informing people about how they can cut down their energy usage this winter (Alamy)
The government has confirmed that it is looking at ways of better informing people about how they can cut down their energy usage this winter in an apparent U-turn on the issue.
In recent weeks Downing Street has rejected widespread calls for the government to launch a public information campaign telling people how they can further save money on their bills after concerns were raised over the possibility of insufficient global fuel supplies.
Asked last week whether people should use less energy, energy minister Graham Stuart said: "We are not sending that out as a message.
"The last thing you ant to do is tell someone to switch off the national off when it makes no difference to the national [energy] security position."
The Times reported last week that Liz Truss blocked an information campaign that had been prepared by Jacob Rees Mogg, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with sources telling the newspaper that she was ideologically opposed to it.
A Cabinet minister who agreed with Truss told PoliticsHome: "People are smarter than you think."
But in the face of pressure from Tory MPs who have been pushing for such a campaign, Truss now seems to have softened her position.
Durning Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Truss told Tory MP Guy Opperman that Rees Mogg was "working on a plan to help companies and individuals use energy more efficiently".
Her spokesperson subsequently confirmed that the government was looking at how it could "further expand" an existing campaign – Help for Households – in order to better inform the public how they can cut down their energy usage.
"We have the existing campaign called Help for Households and we are looking at ways to further boost that. As part of that, we'll be signposting to information including information on ways the public can save money on their energy bills," said the Downing Street spokesperson.
They insisted that the move was not a U-turn, however, and said that the government always intended to help the public make "informed decisions".
"What I've said consistently is there is no new bespoke campaign on encouraging the public to cut their energy bills. That position stands," they said.
"We want to provide the public with all the information they need so they can make informed decisions given the retail price of energy about how they can potentially save money through things like insulation, turning down the boiler, and other common sense approaches."
They said that the government would do this by "signposting" to "trusted sources" like the National Grid, which already provides customers with tips on how to cut down their energy usage.
A senior government source stressed to PoliticsHome that ministers were not going to instruct people how to behave this winter amid growing concern over the UK's energy supplies.
"We’re not in the business of telling people what to do," they said.
Downing Street is working on the plans with The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and other government departments, PoliticsHome understands.
The National Grid said last week that blackouts lasting up to three hours could impact homes in the coming months if the UK does not import sufficient enegy supplies from Europe.
In a bid to protect the country's energy supplies this winter, from November there will be financial incentives for people to reduce their energy usage at peak times. They could do this by taking steps like using the washing macine overnight, for example.
The company said, however, that in the meantime households should not be affected, despite "unprecedented turmoil and volatility" in the energy market caused by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
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