Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary tries to quell public anger after SSE announced it will hike energy bills in November (Photo: Reuters)
Britain's coalition government has attempted to abate the inevitable wave of public anger, after one of the UK's largest energy suppliers SSE said it was partly forced to hike energy bills as of next month.
SSE, one of Britain's big six energy companies which make up 99% of the UK energy sector, announced it will raise its charges for electricity and gas by an average of 8.2% despite saying recently that hiking prices was "the last thing the company wanted to do".
However, the group said that the increased cost of buying wholesale energy, government-imposed levies through energy bill collection and delivery costs to the home, has forced the supplier to charge more.
The Energy and Climate Change Secretary attempted to explain why there is a tax on energy bill collection and where proceeds go to.
"This is clearly unwelcome news for customers of SSE. People should take the opportunity now to make sure they are on the best deal available to them," said Edward Davey.
"Half of an average energy bill is made up of the wholesale cost of energy. This far outweighs the proportion of a bill that goes to help vulnerable households with their bills and to cut energy waste, and to encourage investment in the new low-carbon energy generation we need to keep the lights on.
"SSE's own figures show that wholesale price rises have contributed more than policy costs to this price increase, as a share of the bill."
Labour vs the Coalition
After Labour Party Ed Miliband's pledge in September to freeze energy prices until 2017 if the Labour Party wins the general election in two years, SSE and fellow British-listed utility Centrica lost a combined £2.7bn (€3.19bn, $4.3bn) in market value in two days.
Following its announcement on the bill hike, SSE shares opened up around 1% on the London Stock Exchange while the index remained mostly flat.
"If we win that election in 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will not rise. It will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses," said Miliband in his conference speech.
However, Davey said in a statement that the government is already helping the public pare down their energy bills.
"We've already taken action to help consumers this winter. Two million households will get as much as £135 off their bills under the Warm Home Discount," he said.
"230,000 homes will be warmer this year by getting energy efficiency measures installed under the element of the Energy Company Obligation.
"We're also changing energy bills by cutting the number of tariffs, making bills simpler and clearer, and getting people off poor-value dead tariffs and on to the best deal for them."
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