Which? has called on the government to annually review the cost of energy and climate change policies on consumers’ bills.
The consumer watchdog argues that, because the policies raise funds through levies on energy bills, they should be treated as taxes and therefore be subject to review by the National Audit Office.
Richard Lloyd executive director for Which? explained: “The reality is that consumers are essentially being taxed, through their energy bills, to pay for the upgrade of our energy infrastructure.
“People will not feel confident that they are getting a fair deal unless the government, along with industry and regulators, ensure these costs are open, transparent and subject to robust scrutiny like any other form of taxation.
He continued: “The National Audit Office has a key role to play here, building on the useful work it has already started we'd like to see them apply the same sort of rigour to all policy costs, as soon as is practically possible, to ensure ministers are accountable for securing the best value for consumers at all times.”
According to the latest figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), energy and climate change policies are estimated to represent 5% of the average household gas bill, 14% of an average electricity bill and 9% of an average household dual fuel bill in 2013. The department predicts that household gas and electricity prices are estimated to rise by around 12% and 30% in real terms over the next seven years.
The government argues that, because of the spiralling cost of fossil fuels, its current energy policies will in fact save consumers money on their energy bills by 11% in 2020 and 3% in 2030 compared to future bills without policies.