Press Release: Campaigners criticise Sadiq’s energy “white-label whitewash”

Campaigners have attacked the decision by Sadiq Khan to backtrack on a key manifesto commitment to set up a new publicly-owned not-for-profit energy company for London. Instead, Sadiq is only committing to a brand-partnership with existing companies – described by campaigners as a “white-label whitewash”.

This morning’s “Energy for Londoners” announcement as part of the Mayor’s Environmental Strategy includes a tender for a “white-label” brand partnership, where the GLA markets energy supplied by a different company. [1]

But Khan’s manifesto pledges included establishing a “not-for-profit company” to accelerate London’s climate transition and cut fuel bills. [2] During his election campaign, Khan publicly pledged to use Energy for Londoners to “invest in business growth and jobs in the clean energy sector”, to tackle fuel poverty in the capital and to offer increased democratic accountability over London’s energy. [3]

Financial modelling by Switched on London showed that the GLA can save Londoners £159 a year off their energy bills by setting up a fully-licensed company. This could set its own tariffs, create jobs in London, boost investment in local renewables and give Londoners a greater say over their energy supply. [4]

But today’s announcement to enter into a white-label brand-partnership calls into question its potential to meet Khan’s promises. This is in contrast to Nottingham and Bristol City Councils, who have already set up their own “fully licensed” suppliers. [5] While the GLA’s announcement states the option of a fully licensed company will be “kept under review”, no commitment has been made in this regard.

Laura Hill of campaign group Switched on London slammed the Environment Strategy announcement as a “white-label whitewash”:

“For all the bold words, Sadiq is dithering on the single boldest step he could take in the fight against fuel poverty, missing his best opportunity to cut bills for hard-up London households. London doesn’t need yet another branding exercise, we need our own public company, controlled democratically by and for Londoners. Sadiq says London can lead on climate – this announcement shows there is no intent to be a clean energy leader – or even a peer – with other European cities.”

“Jeremy Corbyn’s general election manifesto promised regional energy supply companies if Labour comes to power. Sadiq could have announced one for London today – but he’s passing the buck.”

“Unless Sadiq comes up with a concrete plan for how his ‘white-label whitewash’ can transition to a fully licensed not-for-profit company as soon as possible, Londoners will consider Sadiq to have broken a key election pledge.”

She added:

“If Energy for Londoners is to be nothing more than a branded partnerships with suppliers outside our city, is this really a plan for Londoners at all? Without its own independent energy company, London will lack power over how our energy is generated or how much it costs. This isn’t over: Switched on London will keep up the pressure until we have the clean, fair and democratic company we need.”

More than 400 Londoners wrote to Sadiq Khan urging him to set up a new energy company for London as part of a campaign called Switched on London that is backed by Greenpeace, Unite, Unison and PCS. Recent polling shows that 77% of Londoners want a London public energy company that reduces the cost of energy bills and invests in local energy. [6]

Friday 11th August, for immediate release:
07969287226
info@switchedonlondon.org.uk
@SwitchedOnLDN

Notes

1.https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/les_full_version.pdf

See page 227: The GLA will tender for another energy company to collaborate with in a “white label” partnership to supply power to London’s homes and businesses. Under a white label scheme, the GLA would provide a front-end business to sell energy supplied by a pre-existing supplier.

2. http://www.sadiq.london/a_greener_cleaner_london

3. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sadiq-khan/sadiq-khan-energy-for-londoners_b_9700936.html

4.
£159 saving over average dual fuel energy bills, according to Ofgem data. Full modelling results available here:
http://switchedonlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/delivering-energy-for-londoners.pdf

5. https://www.robinhoodenergy.co.uk/
https://bristol-energy.co.uk/

[6] http://switchedonlondon.org.uk/switchedonlondon-report/

Switched On London is a campaign coalition calling on the GLA – in collaboration with London boroughs – to create a new public energy company as a people’s alternative to the Big Six. We are backed by major unions, NGOs and grassroots groups. Find out more at www.switchedonlondon.org.uk

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