Tories and Labour clash on energy policy as they battle for power

The Tories and Labour clashed on energy policy as the General Election campaign focused on the prospect of cheaper household bills.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is using a visit to Scotland to promote his plan for a publicly-owned green electricity generator, which he said would cut bills and boost energy security.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho set out plans for consumer-friendly changes and accused Labour of not being “honest about the costs” that their plans for net zero power would involve.

Kier Starmer visit to Humberside
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer will highlight his plan for a state-owned clean power generator (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The row came as regulator Ofgem set the latest level for the energy price cap on average bills.

It announced on Friday morning that the average household energy bill will drop by 7% from July 1, when the latest change to the regulator’s price cap takes effect.

The typical household’s energy bill is set to fall from the current £1,690 a year to £1,568.

This will be £500 less than the cap in July last year, when it was £2,074, but Labour pointed out it is still £400 more than in 2021.

Sir Keir will say that “after 14 years of Tory chaos” people “are desperate for change”.

“Families are picking up the tab of 14 years of Tory energy failure and are expected to remain a staggering £400 a year worse off under the new price cap.”

He will add: “Labour will stop families paying over the odds for energy. Great British Energy, our new publicly-owned energy company, will invest in homegrown clean energy to boost energy independence and cut bills for good.”

Energy Transitions Conference
Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho set out proposals to improve consumer choice (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Coutinho said Labour’s drive to decarbonise the electricity system by 2030 would “take us back to square one by making voters pay more for net zero”.

She said shifting away from North Sea oil and gas would put 200,000 jobs at risk.

She set out her own energy policies, including maintaining the Ofgem cap throughout the next parliament to help keep bills down.

Under the Tory proposals, price comparison services will be made easier to use and Ofgem could publish league tables showing how long energy firms take to respond to customer complaints.

“Only the Conservatives have a clear plan for a secure future where we reach net zero without punishing families with extra costs,” she said.

In response, a Labour spokesman said the Conservatives “will never end the cost-of-living crisis – only Labour has a plan to cut bills and make Britain energy independent”.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak will complete his whistlestop tour of the four nations of the UK with a visit to Northern Ireland.

He used a Telegraph column to accuse Sir Keir of lacking the “courage” to take part in weekly televised debates during the campaign.

Labour indicated that rather than the six showdowns proposed by the Tories, Sir Keir would agree to the two broadcasters with the largest audience – the BBC and ITV.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will visit Tory-held seats on the south coast as he pledges to guarantee patients in England the right to see a GP within seven days.