Today’s lead story (February 3) in much of the media is that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is planning to spend billions of pounds to cushion the impact on householders of a huge rise in domestic heating charges which will take effect from April.
According to green policy watchdog Net Zero Watch, the government will make £6 billion of loans available to energy companies so that they can pass on rebates of £200 per household, cutting the average bill after the increase from £1,900 to £1,700. .
Dr John Constable, director of energy for Net Zero Watch, says that the loans are a ‘terrible idea’ that would set an undesirable and unsustainable precedent, and also not solve the underlying problem, which was that the price crisis had been caused by the government’s net zero energy policies.
“Loans to the energy companies are a simply terrible idea and show that the No. 10 operation cannot face up to the failure of the green policies which lie behind the current crisis, and are costing consumers well over £10 billion a year Even Germany has agreed to cut 25 billion Euros of renewables subsidies from energy bills in an effort to protect consumers. The Prime MInister has put Net Zero and energy company shareholders before the public interest. He will not be forgiven.”
Elsewhere, in the Telegraph, columnist Allister Heath also makes no bones about whose fault the energy price rises are. He states:
“All of which brings us to energy policy, another case study in extreme failure. A sensible government would urgently accelerate its nuclear plans by creating a powerful agency modelled on the vaccines taskforce. As a temporary solution, such an administration would also push to extract more oil and gas, including by fracking. “Instead, a government that no longer believes in markets will now simply pretend that prices are much lower than they are. The Treasury will lend billions to energy companies to allow them to moderate price rises; customers will then pay higher bills in the future to ensure the Treasury (hopefully) recoups its money”
And how is the BBC reporting the cost-of-living crisis? There are two main stories online, one headed ‘Millions braced as energy price rise to be revealed’, and the second a background piece ‘I’m so cold it feels like I’m sleeping outside’.
The first story reports the speculation about the government’s energy company loans and includes comment that the money released will not be enough to make energy affordable to most households, together with a call from Labour for a windfall tax on energy suppliers such as Shell. There’s no mention, however, that the price increases are thought to have been largely triggered by the government’s pursuit of so-called renewable energy under the net zero strategy.
The second story focuses on a 54-year old disabled black woman who is ‘desperately trying to keep her energy bills down’, and who reporter Michael Buchanan says is ‘one of millions’ set to be affected by the increased energy bills. He adds that the rise is thought – which would tip 4 million households into ‘fuel stress’ (10% of budgets spent on fuel) – to have been caused by ‘a big increase in global wholesale prices’.
Surprise, surprise, yet again there is no mention of the impact of net zero policies.