Rochford & Southend East Labour Party have said that residents have been betrayed by the Conservatives on their election pledge to cap energy prices.
The accusation comes after Centrica, the owners of British Gas, announced last week it was hiking electricity prices by 12.5 per cent, a move that has outraged local Labour politicians who lay the blame squarely at the feet of the government.
Ian Gilbert, Leader of the Labour Group on Southend Council and Ashley Dalton, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate in 2017, have claimed that despite promises in the Conservative manifesto to introduce an energy price cap and to take action to ensure customers are on fair tariffs the government has done nothing meaningful to achieve that.
Cllr Gilbert believes that whilst local Labour Councillors have done a lot to help people with their energy bills the problem must be tackled by central government.
He said: “Whilst in coalition running Southend Council, we created an energy partnership to provide residents an alternative to the big six power companies that was both good value and good for the community. It has already saved hundreds of households in Southend considerable money off their bills.
“We can do a lot a more at the local level to make energy more affordable and more ethical, but we need national action to fix the country’s broken energy market.”
Ashley Dalton, who stood for election against Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East James Duddridge in June, believes that voters in Southend had not been delivered what they were promised in the election.
He said: “The Conservatives were championing policies to protect families on standard variable tariffs and to introduce energy price caps but opposition from their own back benchers led to them abandoning the price cap in the Queen’s speech.
“For some residents a rise of 12 per cent will mean they can no longer afford to switch on the electric heater or cook a hot meal.
“The Tories promised an energy price cap and they have delivered nothing. They have squandered the support of Southend Voters. Labour remains committed to introducing an energy price cap and we call on the Tories to keep their promise.”
In response to these claims, Mr Duddridge said: “Since the announcement, The Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, has written to Ofgem who have committed to take prompt action in consultation with consumer experts, to develop proposals including a safeguard tariff.
“It is simply untrue to suggest that the government have not done anything meaningful in this regard. We want to see rapid progress on this commitment but it will take time.
“Let’s not forget, Labour’s record on energy prices. Fuel poverty nearly doubled in Labour’s last five years, it rose by 90 percent increasing from 2.5 million in 2005 to 4.75 million in 2010.”