Shadow minister for energy and climate change, Alan Whitehead, has expressed his lack of confidence in DECC getting a good deal from next week's spending review.
Speculating over the outcome of next week’s announcements, the former member of the Energy and Climate Change select committee said: “I have to say at the moment I am not particularly buoyed up by the idea that there will be a terrific settlement at the Spending Review.”
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Local Authority Energy Index yesterday, Whitehead also claimed that the secrecy surrounding funding decisions has led to some confusion regarding budget cuts DECC is expecting.
He said: “We had some interesting little tasters [of the spending review] in energy and climate change questions about what ministers thought they might have in the pot and the extent to which they were being tight-lipped because they didn’t know what the outcome was likely to be.
“There are two ways of interpreting that: firstly, ministers are being tight-lipped because they know that actually the pot in the spending review is empty and therefore [they] haven’t got [a reason] to have coy smiles at the corners of their mouths. Alternatively, it really is an operation where actually there is a lot of secrecy around the process and genuine lack of knowledge and information about what outcomes there are likely to be.”
DECC’s annual budget currently stands at £3.9 billion and it has already received a £70 million cut to its 2015/16 budget. In addition, it has also reportedly accepted around 21% in budget reductions over the course of the parliament.
Following her recent announcements regarding the future of UK energy policy, energy secretary Amber Rudd has faced increased pressure to reveal detail regarding energy efficiency policy, which was predominantly lacking from her speech.
Whitehead added: “Policy changes over the immediate next period – particularly in terms of looking at how the son [or] daughter of ECO can go ahead, looking at whether the Green Deal is dead and buried or merely resting – are at the heart of what needs to be done over the next period.”
“They also depend on the extent to which Treasury is going to actually free up the credits or actual funding to enable those processes to go ahead,” he added.
Whitehead also called the current situation a “policy impasse”, and one that is unlikely to be resolved until the details of the spending review are announced.