Energy secretary gets tough with big firms

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BIG energy firms face a continued crackdown as the Energy Secretary says the Government will continue to back smaller firms.

Ed Davey will today tell the Liberal Democrat conference he is succeeding in a promise to force energy firms to make it easier for consumers to switch firms.

Mr Davey will say the big firms are on course to meet his demand that they cut by half the time it takes to switch.

But he will also commitment the Lib Dems to backing measures which make it easier for smaller firms to enter the marker, making the energy market far more competitive.

“Britain needed dramatic reform too. And we’ve delivered.

“Not by tweaking the same old, business as usual models we inherited from Labour. Not by doing what our Tory Coalition colleagues wanted. Or what the big energy companies or Whitehall wanted us to do,” Mr Davey is expected to say.

He will add: “I’m proud that energy independents are supplying nearly eight times as many people as they were under Labour.

“And I want to see their market share grow more - to 30 per cent or more by the end of the decade. That will mean lower energy bills and better customer service for people across Britain.

“And if we couple this radical shift to smaller suppliers, with a step change on energy efficiency, not only will we see lower energy bills, but we will dramatically cut fuel poverty, reversing Labour’s failure there too.”

Mr Davey’s speech comes after the Lib Dem conference backed a motion committing the party to do more to tackle flooding.

The calls for the Government to introduce high standards for flood resilience for buildings and infrastructure in high risk areas, implement programmes to help farmers adapt to climate change impact, and update planning and construction standards to future-proof housing against higher summer temperatures to protect people from heat-related deaths.

Dan Rogerson, Lib Dem Minister for Flooding, said: “Huge swathes of the country have taken a battering from floods.

“Climate change is a driver of more frequent extreme weather, which leads to more catastrophic flooding.

“So, it is crucial to a sustainable UK economy we invest now to protect homeowners and businesses in the future.”

He added that extra support for victims of flooding and more work to shore up flood defences was economically vital.

Money to deal with flooding has increased by £400m under this Government, the Lib Dems said.