Gas and electricity bills are still the biggest household spending worry – only slightly reduced from 2013
Ed Miliband attempted to capitalise on the success of his 2013 energy price freeze on Sunday, when he told Andrew Marr that the regulator, Ofgem, should have powers to force energy companies to pass lower wholesale costs on to consumers. The Labour leader said he would demand fast-track legislation on energy in a Commons debate this week, so that the regulator could make prices for consumers reflect the falling price of gas and oil.
New YouGov research reveals that gas and electricity bills are still the household cost most worried about by voters, although anxiety over energy prices has receded since 2013.
36% said they were most worried about energy bills in February 2013, compared to 27% this January. Mortgages and rent are still the second most worried about household cost (17%), but voters have become less worried about other bills: 31% now say they are not worried about any of the costs mentioned, compared to only 15% in 2013.
As in 2013, the biggest slice of voters (68%) believe the best solution to rising energy prices lies with the energy companies themselves, if they would stop making excessive profits from their customers. Diversifying energy sources is also popular (43%); government intervention to reduce prices ranks equally (42%).
E.On announced a 3.5% cut to its standard gas prices yesterday, equivalent to £24 off the average annual bill. Wholesale gas prices are now 30% lower than they were a year ago, a fluctuation which has driven the Eurozone into deflation, Russia into recession, and is partly to blame for the UK’s now record-low inflation figure (0.5%).