Green commitments an ongoing fight within Coalition – Cable
A coalition row over the future of green energy levies erupted into the open yesterday as Business Secretary Vince Cable said any attempt to ditch the policies would be "short-sighted and foolish".
The Prime Minister's spokes-man indicated the levies were under review, with the Government looking "across the board" at ways to reduce pressures on household finances.
He said Mr Cameron was clear the measures, aimed at boosting renewable energy production, "shouldn't be there for a second longer than they need to".
Asked if the levies were under review, he said: "You would expect us, when family budgets are under pressure, to be looking at ways of whether or not more can be done to help them. That's what the Government will be doing."
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Mr Cable confirmed that arguments over subsidies for renewable energy were raging within the Coalition, with Lib-Dem ministers fighting pressure from Conservative colleagues to shift focus away from green commitments.
His comments came as the chief executive of energy company SSE, which has raised its prices by up to 10%, called for a debate on the "green agenda", which he claims will lead to more bill hikes in the future. Alistair Phillips-Davies said SSE's price hike, which will push a typical dual-fuel customer bill up by £106 to £1,380 a year, would be "helpful" if it focused the nation on its spending priorities.
SSE believes bills would fall by £110 per household overnight if the Government covered green energy subsidies and the cost of other schemes, such as free loft insulation, through the tax system. Mr Phillips-Davies told the Daily Telegraph: "Maybe it's time to retreat from decarbonisation and focus more on the cost of living. I think we have to have a debate about it."
But Mr Cable insisted that the consumer will gain in the long run from investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, and denied that green policies were a major factor in pushing up prices.