Cabinet minister confirms Tory pledge on energy bills cap
A senior government minister has confirmed that the Tories will pledge to put a cap on energy bills in the party’s upcoming manifesto.
Damian Green ratified a report in this morning’s Sunday Times that the Conservatives plan to empower Ofgem to put a maximum price on the standard variable tariffs that are used by seven out of ten households.
The Work and Pensions Secretary told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “There will be a lot about energy policy in the manifesto. Obviously there will be more details then.
“But absolutely, I think that the people feel that some of the big energy companies have taken advantage of them with the tariffs they’ve got.”
Mr Green also insisted that the pledge is a different policy from that outlined by Ed Miliband ahead of the 2015 general election – for which the then Labour leader was criticised heavily by Conservative politicians.
“If you remember, Ed Miliband proposed to freeze [prices] so the Government would set a level and then immediately after the energy price fell quite considerably, as oil prices fell for various external reasons.
“The difference is that we would have Ofgem setting the limits so it would be a cap, so it would be more flexible, it would be able to reflect market conditions so the market would still have an influence.
“And that would mean in practical terms that if the oil price fell again then consumers would benefit in a way they wouldn’t have done under Ed Miliband’s proposal.”
A Conservative source told the Sunday Times the move could save average households up to £100 per year.
Tory party chair Patrick McLoughlin told Radio 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “Theresa May has made it perfectly clear as Prime Minister that some of the things she’s found about energy prices unacceptable and she made the commitment a few weeks ago to the party’s spring conference that this was something she was looking at and would deal with...
“You’ll need to wait and see the actual details of what we’re going to do in due course.”
WHITE VAN MAN
Theresa May yesterday three times refused to rule out increases to income tax, VAT or National Insurance if the Conservatives win the upcoming general election.
The Prime Minister said the Conservative party “believes in lower taxes” – but she declined to make any commitments on whether the Tory manifesto would include a “tax lock” pledge as the 2015 document.
Mr Green this morning moved to dismiss claims that the Tories were planning to target the so-called white van man – workers on lower incomes – through changes in tax policy.
“We’re absolutely… not. We haven’t had a go at people on lower incomes, indeed, we have specifically tried to and been successful in supporting them at a time when the public finances have had extreme difficulty,” he said.
“So of course that’s what a Conservative, a re-elected Conservative government would continue to want to do.”
Mr McLoughlin was also quizzed on the Tory tax plans and refused to be drawn on any specifics, saying only that the Conservatives were “the party of low taxation”.