Zac Goldsmith’s ties to Big Six energy companies leave Londoners in the cold

 

Campaign coalition Switched On London has today voiced concerns about Zac Goldsmith’s ties to the Big Six energy suppliers. Zac Goldsmith has appointed ex-British Gas Lobbyist as his Head of Policy in the run up to the mayoral elections. Despite Goldsmiths claims to be on the side of ordinary Londoners, London’s sky-high energy bills and escalating levels of fuel poverty have barely been mentioned in his election campaign.[1]

Goldsmith’s head of policy is Tara Singh, whose four years as public affairs manager at British Gas-owner Centrica saw her lobbying against meaningful reform of the energy market and in favour of preserving the power of major suppliers. [2] As Goldsmith’s policy chief, Singh is leading on the development of his policies and manifesto and is heading up his campaign.

Following the release of the Competition and Markets Authority report, which outlined how the Big Six energy companies continue to use their market dominance to substantially overcharge hard-pressed households.[3] Londoners are questioning if the mayoral candidate can be trusted to take action to stop escalating energy bills

Fuel poverty and high energy bills are a rising issue in the capital, as more than 560,000 households – 18.6% of all households – live in fuel poverty.[4] This has partly been driven by the fact that London has the most expensive energy bills in the country and some of the least efficient homes. [5]

To deal with this, London could replicate Nottingham, Bristol and Glasgow and set up its own publicly owned municipal energy company. After setting up Robin Hood Energy, Nottingham Council offered savings of up to £237 per year on energy bills in comparison to the Big Six. [6]

Laura Hill from new campaign coalition Switched On London said:

“That Zac Goldsmith has appointed Tara Singh as his policy chief smacks of hypocrisy. While Zac claims to be on the side of ordinary Londoners, his campaign is being run by an energy industry lobbyist whose career has been based on defending the interests of British Gas, a company responsible for spiralling fuel bills, cold homes and polluting energy.

Zac — and other Mayoral candidates — need to prove they’re serious about bringing down our fuel bills, while cutting pollution and emissions. They should follow the lead of local authorities like Nottingham and Bristol and commit to a London public energy company: not-for-profit, controlled democratically and committed to providing a cheaper and clean alternative to the mistrusted energy industry that Zac’s policy chief represented.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Switched On London is a new 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. Switched On London is supported by: Fuel Poverty Action, Platform, Energy Democracy Project, UNISON, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), New Economics Foundation, MADE in Europe, Global Justice Now, We Own It, Community Reinvest, UK Uncut and Disabled People Against Cuts.

Sadiq Khan outlined his position on fuel poverty and energy bills in his manifesto. Sadiq Khan pledges to investigate “potential savings on bills by bulk-buying energy” yet campaigners say that this would still leave Londoners at the mercy of the Big Six energy companies who would continue to have overall control over pricing.

[1]The only mention Goldsmith has made of energy bills in his campaign so far is a promise of a “solar revolution” that may benefit homeowners who can afford to install solar panels but won’t help most people in rented accommodation or with low-incomes.

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/no-10-s-new-energy-adviser-is-a-former-british-gas-lobbyist-8630040.html

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/money/cma-investigation-result-low-income-households-to-get-energy-price-cap-a6922401.html

[4] http://data.london.gov.uk/blog/using-public-data-tackle-fuel-poverty-can-you-help/

[5] https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/green_party_group_-_energy_supply_company_-_final_21_january.pdf

[6] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/07/robin-hood-energy-nottingham-council-launches-not-for-profit-energy-company

Find out more at www.switchedonlondon.org.uk

Photo Credit See Li, Creative Commons

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