Labour to freeze energy bills until 2017
Labour has said it will freeze energy bills for 20 months should it win the next general election, meaning households will benefit from fixed gas and electricity bills into 2017.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party would help address a decline in living standards across Britain by addressing the high energy bills imposed on consumers by the Big Six energy companies.
In his keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, he said: "The next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will be frozen, benefiting millions of families and millions of businesses. That is what I mean by a government that fights for you. That's what I mean when I say: Britain can do better than this."
He said energy companies have been "overcharging people for so long because the market does not work. And we need to press the reset button."
Labour's number-crunchers believe that government intervention in the energy market could result in average savings for consumers of £120 during the 20 month price-freeze.
Miliband was the latest Labour voice to weigh in on the energy market as the opposition party seeks to exploit a perceived decline in living standards among voters, as well as cash-in on consumers' fears of hefty energy price rises to come just at the onset of winter.
His speech echoed the words of Caroline Flint, Labour's shadow energy minister, who said in an earlier, colourful speech: "If ever there was a time for action over energy prices it is now."
She continued: "Imagine if a certain beer company was your energy supplier? You know who I mean. They'd ring up one day and say 'the wholesale price has fallen, so we're going to cut your bill today'. A few weeks later, they'd ring you again 'we're really sorry you've overpaid us, we're refunding the money today'.
"They'd ring you up a few weeks after that and say 'we've got to own up, we're not the cheapest supplier to you, so we're cutting your tariff today to make sure we are.'
"We'd all raise a glass to that."
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Miliband's promise to fix the broken energy market and freeze prices will give hope to the millions worrying about how they can aford to heat their homes. We now look forward to seeing the detail of how this will work."
It is not known how the energy companies would react to the legislation required to impose such a price freeze, nor whether they would raise prices ahead of a freeze.