Energy bills 'could drop by £50'

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Gas fireHousehold energy bills could drop by £50 as a result of cuts to green levies being drawn up by the coalition.

The reductions are expected to be finalised in negotiations taking place with the "Big Six" power firms this weekend.
There is also speculation that some of the suppliers will pledge to freeze charges until 2015 - as long as wholesale market costs do not spike.

Prime Minister David Cameron has signalled his determination to "erode" environmental and policy levies on gas and electricity bills.

They are estimated to add £112 to average annual charges, to support renewable power and subsidise insulation and other efficiency measures for lower income households.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is expected be watered down to reduce the amount of insulation the firms need to fund by around a third.

They will also have two years longer to meet the targets, according to reports. Other levies are set to be met from general taxation in future.

Overall the changes are predicted to take around £50 off average household bills - although that would not cancel out all recent price hikes.

Chancellor George Osborne will hail any reductions in his Autumn Statement next week.

The coalition has been struggling to find a response to Labour's pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months if it wins the general election.

Speaking from Vilnius in Lithuania where he is attending a summit, the Prime Minister said: "I want to help households and families by getting sustainably low energy prices.

"Now, the only way you can do that is by increasing competition and eroding the costs of some of the levies on people's bills.

"I said that's what we were going to do, that is what we are going to do and I think that's a very positive step forward.

"That's a world away from making a vague promise about something you might do in 20 months' time with no idea about how you are going to do it.

"That is a con. What we are dealing with is real policy that can make a real difference."

But shadow energy minister Jonathan Reynolds said: "The Energy Company Obligation is David Cameron's scheme.

"He only introduced it this year and a few months ago he was even boasting that it was bigger than previous energy efficiency schemes.

"Labour has consistently said that ECO should be reformed to make it better value for money and targeted at those in fuel poverty.

"But what the public really needs is a Labour government implementing a price freeze until 2017 and resetting the energy market so that it works for the long term."

© 2013 Press Association
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