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Agenda item

Notice of Motion given by Councillor Mazher Iqbal

That this Council:-

 

a)         believes Britain’s energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses and the cost of electricity and gas is crippling their family finances;

 

(b)       regrets that energy bills have risen by almost £300 for families since 2010 and businesses say it’s the second biggest cost they face and is concerned that when the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on, but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall;

 

(c)        notes recent research by Which? estimating that flaws in the market have left consumers paying £3.9bn a year over the odds since 2010;

 

(d)       fully opposes the unfair price rises recently announced by the big energy companies including a 10.4% increase in Npower’s dual-fuel bills from December, SSE increasing prices by 8.2% from 15th November, British Gas increasing their prices by 9.2% on 23rd November and Scottish Power raising prices by 8.6% from 6th December;

 

(e)       notes comments from the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice speaking about the SSE increase “The price rise will be a blow for stretched budgets … Many households are facing a daily battle to try to make their frozen incomes cover mounting energy, food and travel costs. Further increases will push people into poverty.”;

 

(f)        believes that the increases represent a rip-off and believes that the present Government have chosen to defend the big energy companies and have failed to stand up for the consumer;

 

(g)       regrets that the Council’s main opposition group’s spokesperson for energy has followed the line of the Conservative Party in defending the energy companies rather than Sheffield families and is extremely concerned by the following comments he made in “Lib Dem Voice” on 30th September, 2013 “No energy company has a duty to invest in anything” and “To say that energy prices are the fault of the energy companies is obviously on one level correct, but seems to imply that they have a duty to us rather than their shareholders when they set their prices. They have a legal duty not to operate a cartel, but beyond this they pitch their prices to maximise profits.”

 

(h)       believes that this demonstrates that the main opposition group is only concerned with defending the excessive profits of the big energy companies and has no concern for Sheffield’s hard pressed families who are faced with extortionate increases in their energy bills;

 

(i)         welcomes the commitment by The Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband MP to freeze energy bills until 2017 upon the election of a Labour Government; and

 

(j)         further welcomes the commitment that the next Labour Government will reset our energy market so it works for Britain’s families and businesses, with a new tough regulator to stop overcharging.

 

Minutes:

 

Energy Costs

 

 

 

It was moved by Councillor Mazher Iqbal, seconded by Councillor Adam Hurst, that this Council:-

 

 

 

(a)       believes Britain’s energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses and the cost of electricity and gas is crippling their family finances;

 

(b)       regrets that energy bills have risen by almost £300 for families since 2010 and businesses say it’s the second biggest cost they face and is concerned that when the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on, but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall;

 

(c)        notes recent research by Which? estimating that flaws in the market have left consumers paying £3.9bn a year over the odds since 2010;

 

(d)       fully opposes the unfair price rises recently announced by the big energy companies including a 10.4% increase in Npower’s dual-fuel bills from December, SSE increasing prices by 8.2% from 15th November, British Gas increasing their prices by 9.2% on 23rd November and Scottish Power raising prices by 8.6% from 6th December;

 

(e)       notes comments from the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice speaking about the SSE increase “The price rise will be a blow for stretched budgets … Many households are facing a daily battle to try to make their frozen incomes cover mounting energy, food and travel costs. Further increases will push people into poverty.”;

 

(f)        believes that the increases represent a rip-off and believes that the present Government have chosen to defend the big energy companies and have failed to stand up for the consumer;

 

(g)       regrets that the Council’s main opposition group’s spokesperson for energy has followed the line of the Conservative Party in defending the energy companies rather than Sheffield families and is extremely concerned by the following comments he made in “Lib Dem Voice” on 30th September, 2013 “No energy company has a duty to invest in anything” and “To say that energy prices are the fault of the energy companies is obviously on one level correct, but seems to imply that they have a duty to us rather than their shareholders when they set their prices. They have a legal duty not to operate a cartel, but beyond this they pitch their prices to maximise profits.”

 

(h)       believes that this demonstrates that the main opposition group is only concerned with defending the excessive profits of the big energy companies and has no concern for Sheffield’s hard pressed families who are faced with extortionate increases in their energy bills;

 

(i)         welcomes the commitment by The Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband MP to freeze energy bills until 2017 upon the election of a Labour Government; and

 

(j)         further welcomes the commitment that the next Labour Government will reset our energy market so it works for Britain’s families and businesses, with a new tough regulator to stop overcharging.

 

 

 

Whereupon, it was moved by Councillor Joe Otten, seconded by Councillor Colin Ross, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of all the words after the words “That this Council” and the substitution of the following words therefor:-

 

 

 

(a)       is appalled by the latest round of excessive hikes in energy prices and believes these have been caused by the last Government, who took the market from seventeen operators to the dominance of the big six;   

 

 

 

(b)       welcomes the latest Government proposals, which will see average energy bills reduced by £50;

 

 

 

(c)        notes that this deal was reached while protecting the fuel poor and maintaining support levels for green energy and believes that such a deal could not have been reached without Liberal Democrats in Government;

 

 

 

(d)       confirms that this latest announcement follows a number of measures already taken by the Government to tackle high energy bills, including:

 

 

 

(i)         the ground-breaking Green Deal, including investment described by the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment as “fantastic news for Sheffield”;

 

 

 

(ii)        reversing the previous Government’s planned cut to Cold Weather Payments, which are targeted at the most vulnerable;

 

 

 

(iii)       promoting ‘collective switching’ and making it easier for households to switch providers;

 

 

 

(iv)       reducing fuel bills for 2 million families by up to £130 through the Warm Home Discount;

 

 

 

(v)        rolling out a ‘smart meter’ programme, which helps people save money and ensures energy companies meet demand more efficiently; and

 

 

 

(vi)       working with Ofgem to investigate and tackle the big six’s profits;

 

 

 

(e)       rejects spurious claims that rising energy prices are linked to green levies and highlights research which demonstrates that the Coalition Government’s climate change policies will save consumers roughly £166 in energy bills by 2020;

 

 

 

(f)        believes the Labour Party’s proposed price freeze is a con, which could risk blackouts and jeopardise green jobs as well as billions of pounds of investment in low carbon technology;

 

 

 

(g)       furthermore considers that energy companies will significantly hike prices in anticipation of a freeze and that in the long run a freeze will drive smaller operators out of the market, thereby reducing competition and actually upholding high prices;

 

 

 

(h)       recognises the work already undertaken by the Council to support local residents with energy bills including the previous Administration’s Free Insulation Scheme, which insulated over 28,000 homes in Sheffield, and the Big Sheffield Switch;

 

 

 

(i)         however, calls on the current Administration to go further to support local residents struggling with high energy bills by:

 

 

 

(i)         utilising underspends in the Council capital programme to create a £1 million Local Climate Change Fund, to support community micro-generation projects;

 

 

 

(ii)        maximising the use of collective switching, by repeating the Big Sheffield Switch;

 

 

 

(iii)       promoting the Green Deal, by encouraging local residents to make use of free household assessments; and

 

 

 

(iv)       investigating the use of public health funding to support elderly residents with improved insulation.

 

 

           

On being put to the vote, the amendment was negatived.

 

 

It was moved by Councillor Robert Murphy, seconded by Councillor Jillian Creasy, as an amendment, that the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (g) to (j) and the addition of new paragraphs (g) to (j) as follows:-

 

 

 

(g)       notes that recent budget amendments by the smaller opposition group would have meant lower bills for thousands of Sheffield residents if they had been supported by this Council;

 

 

 

(h)       is disappointed that this motion contains no suggestion of support from this Council to local residents other than support for promises of possible national action in 2015;

 

 

 

(i)         believes that the announcement of a future Price Freeze policy by The Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband MP will lead to higher energy prices before 2015, adversely affecting the residents of Sheffield; and

 

 

 

(j)         calls on this Administration to produce a report as soon as possible on ways that it can help cut the energy bills of its residents.

 

 

 

On being put to the vote, the amendment was negatived. 

 

 

 

(Note: Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Shaffaq Mohammed, Rob Frost, Sylvia Anginotti, Colin Ross, Joe Otten, Penny Baker, Diana Stimely, Roger Davison, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Denise Reaney, Ian Auckland, Anders Hanson, Katie Condliffe, David Baker and Trevor Bagshaw voted for paragraphs (h), (i) and (j) and against paragraph (g) of the above amendment and asked for this to be recorded.)

 

 

 

After a right of reply by Councillor Mazher Iqbal,  the original Motion was then put to the vote and carried, as follows:-

 

 

 

RESOLVED:  That this Council:-

 

 

 

a)         believes Britain’s energy market isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses and the cost of electricity and gas is crippling their family finances;

 

(b)       regrets that energy bills have risen by almost £300 for families since 2010 and businesses say it’s the second biggest cost they face and is concerned that when the price of energy increases energy companies pass this on, but when it drops consumers don’t see their bills fall;

 

(c)        notes recent research by Which? estimating that flaws in the market have left consumers paying £3.9bn a year over the odds since 2010;

 

(d)       fully opposes the unfair price rises recently announced by the big energy companies including a 10.4% increase in Npower’s dual-fuel bills from December, SSE increasing prices by 8.2% from 15th November, British Gas increasing their prices by 9.2% on 23rd November and Scottish Power raising prices by 8.6% from 6th December;

 

(e)       notes comments from the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice speaking about the SSE increase “The price rise will be a blow for stretched budgets … Many households are facing a daily battle to try to make their frozen incomes cover mounting energy, food and travel costs. Further increases will push people into poverty.”;

 

(f)        believes that the increases represent a rip-off and believes that the present Government have chosen to defend the big energy companies and have failed to stand up for the consumer;

 

(g)       regrets that the Council’s main opposition group’s spokesperson for energy has followed the line of the Conservative Party in defending the energy companies rather than Sheffield families and is extremely concerned by the following comments he made in “Lib Dem Voice” on 30th September, 2013 “No energy company has a duty to invest in anything” and “To say that energy prices are the fault of the energy companies is obviously on one level correct, but seems to imply that they have a duty to us rather than their shareholders when they set their prices. They have a legal duty not to operate a cartel, but beyond this they pitch their prices to maximise profits.”

 

(h)       believes that this demonstrates that the main opposition group is only concerned with defending the excessive profits of the big energy companies and has no concern for Sheffield’s hard pressed families who are faced with extortionate increases in their energy bills;

 

(i)         welcomes the commitment by The Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband MP to freeze energy bills until 2017 upon the election of a Labour Government; and

 

(j)         further welcomes the commitment that the next Labour Government will reset our energy market so it works for Britain’s families and businesses, with a new tough regulator to stop overcharging.

 

 

 

(Note 1. Councillors Simon Clement-Jones, Shaffaq Mohammed, Rob Frost, Sylvia Anginotti, Colin Ross, Joe Otten, Penny Baker, Diana Stimely, Roger Davison, Sue Alston, Andrew Sangar, Denise Reaney, Ian Auckland, Anders Hanson, Katie Condliffe, David Baker and Trevor Bagshaw voted for paragraphs (a) and (d) and against paragraphs (b) and (c) and (e) to (j) of the Substantive Motion and asked for this to be recorded.

 

2. Councillors Robert Murphy and Jillian Creasy voted for paragraphs (a) to (f) and abstained on paragraphs (g) to (j) of the Substantive Motion and asked for this to be recorded.)