Labour frontbencher can’t say how much green energy plans will cut bills

Jon Ashworth
Jonathan Ashworth insists energy bills will be cut under a Labour government - Thomas Krych / Story Picture Agency

A Labour frontbencher has failed to say how much lower household bills would be under the party’s green energy plans.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, repeatedly insisted “your energy bills will be cut” if Sir Keir Starmer enters Downing Street after the general election.

But he declined to put a figure on how much households would save as a result of its net zero push, which has prompted warnings of a £4.5 billion black hole in the public finances.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Ashworth said: “There is an energy transition taking place as we speak across the world and we need to be at the forefront of that. And that is why we’re going to invest in industry.

“Not only is it good for jobs, it brings down energy bills for people across the country. We’re going to cut energy bills for good… Under Labour, you will be better off and your energy bills will be cut.”

Asked by Mishal Husain, the presenter, how much bills would fall by in the first year of a Labour government, he said: “This is obviously across a parliament, and you’ve got to invest in the renewable sector.”

‘It creates good jobs’

When asked how much household bills would decrease throughout a parliament, Mr Ashworth replied: “I’m not going to give you a figure just plucked from thin air.”

Ms Husain noted there was a significant difference between savings of one per cent and 20 per cent a year but did not gain any further clarity from the shadow cabinet minister.

“Your energy bills will be cut as we invest in the green industries in the future – onshore, offshore, solar,” Mr Ashworth said. “It creates good, well-paid jobs across the country.”

The shadow paymaster general was also unable to confirm how many of the 650,000 jobs that the party is promising under its green transition proposals will be new vacancies, as opposed to replacements for existing jobs.

“There are great opportunities in the economy of the future if we’re prepared to put the investment in now,” he said.

“We’re going to invest in the North Sea, there’s great opportunities in the North Sea in terms of hydrogen, carbon capture, which will create good new jobs.”

Taking Britian ‘back to the dark ages’

Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, has accused Labour of wanting to take Britain “back to the dark ages” with its net zero plan to phase out domestic production of oil and gas, which she said would lead to higher taxes.

The Labour manifesto includes a manifesto pledge to block exploration of new oil and gas fields because it would “accelerate the worsening climate crisis”.

Tory analysis claims the ban would lead to lost tax takings of £12.4 billion while also threatening 200,000 high-paid jobs that depend on the sector, most of which are based in Scotland. Labour dismissed the calculations as “desperate nonsense” on Sunday night.

It comes ahead of Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, pledging to pour £7.3 billion into a new National Wealth Fund that will bankroll the development of renewables.

The fund is at the centre of Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, which also includes Great British Energy, a new state-owned energy company that would work towards replacing fossil fuel power.