The Deputy Prime Minister has said that energy companies must be 'more transparent' but stopped short of supporting Justin Welby after the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that the latest wave of hikes looks "inexplicable" and that providers should behave morally.
Speaking on Murnaghan on Sky News Nick Clegg said:
"Clearly the companies need to justify the bill increases that they are now announcing and that's one of the reasons Ed Davey has written to the companies and said 'you've got to be more transparent' about the sums which lie behind these eye-wateringly high price hikes."
"It cannot be right that people who are really struggling to pay their bills. I think we do need, not only more competition so people can switch to lower tariffs... but also great transparency in the way on which these companies account for themselves.
"Not just to their shareholders but also to the public."
Energy Minister Michael Fallon has said that all of the Government's green taxes would be assessed to identify cases where the costs they imposed on customers were too high. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Fallon added:
We have to look at the seven green taxes and see where the burden is too high. And when network costs account for a fifth of bills then Ofgem must bear down harder on distribution monopolies.
A three-point plan has been drawn up by Conservative MPs inside the government over the rising cost of energy prices. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the plan consists of:
- The completion of the Energy Companies Obligation, which involves fitting insulation and energy saving measures into the homes of vulnerable customers, such as pensioners on low incomes, would be delayed by two years to 2017.
- Energy companies would be given more time to meet their targets for cutting carbon emissions under the ECO scheme, under the plan.
- Ministers would review the Carbon Price Floor, a tax on fossil fuels used to generate electricity, which the power companies say will add £26 to household bills.
- Cutting the cost of distribution of gas and electricity, which is organised through smaller regional monopolies. Government sources say Ofgem, the energy regulator, has failed to be tough enough on bringing down the costs of distribution on the gas and electricity networks.
Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments over energy price rises, who said that the Big Six companies had a "moral duty" towards their hard-pressed customers.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Ms Flint said: "The chorus of voices telling this Government to act on spiralling energy bills is deafening."
The head of the Church of England has said he understood the anger the energy price rises were generating. Justin Welby said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday that the Big Six companies "had a responsibility" to their customers:
They have control because they sell something everyone has to buy. We have no choice about buying it. With that amount of power comes huge responsibility to serve society.
The social licence to operate of the energy companies is something they have to take very, very seriously indeed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has waded into the row over energy prices, warning that the latest wave of hikes looks "inexplicable" and that providers should behave morally.
Welby insisted the Big Six companies should be "conscious of their social obligations", and "behave with generosity and not merely to maximise opportunity".
The intervention, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, came after British Gas followed in the footsteps of SSE by announcing a 9.2% increase in prices.
The head of the Church of England said: "I can understand people being angry about it, because having spent years on a low income as a clergyman I know what it is like when your household budget is blown apart by a significant extra fuel bill and your anxiety levels become very high."
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned MPs not to rush their decision on whether to vote for military intervention in the Syria conflict.
Ahead of tomorrow's early return to Parliament, the Most Rev Justin Welby said he feared the possible consequences of intervention, saying they were "beyond description and horrible".
He told the Daily Telegraph: "I have had a lot of conversations with people in the region.
"I think the overwhelming sense is of a really moving and terrible sense of fear about what might come out of, what might be happening in the next few weeks - not predicated on people doing one thing or people doing another, just a sense that this a terribly, terribly dangerous time."
However, the Archbishop acknowledged that the Government was better informed than he was, making clear that he had no sense that politicians were "slavering" to "unleash the dogs of war".
The Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to turn down the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA will set back an organisation that has endured some negative recent press.
The animal charity has been accused of being heavy-handed in its approach to pet-owners and of allegedly pursuing criminal convictions to increase its revenue.
It was also accused of wasting public donations by spending £326,000 in pursuing legal action against fox hunters in the Cotswolds last year.
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace has explained the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to follow his predecessors in accepting the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA.
Since taking office in March this year, the Archbishop has received many kind invitations to patron a large variety of charities and good causes. Each invitation has been an honour, and in an ideal world he would like to accept them all.
However, in light of the sheer volume of the requests the Archbishop receives, and the many pressures on his time and resources, he has reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage to a manageable number of organisations, based on where he feels his support could be most beneficial.
She added: "Nevertheless, the Archbishop has enormous admiration for the RSPCA and hopes to see its work thrive long into the future."
The Archbishop of Canterbury has broken with tradition and turned down a post as vice-patron of the RSPCA, which has faced criticism for its recent bullish pursuit of animal welfare issues.
The animal charity, which was founded by an Anglican priest in 1824, has been accused of wasting donations on legal action.
Lambeth Palace said the Most Rev Justin Welby has "enormous admiration" for the RSPCA but had declined the invitation as he has "reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage".