Greg Barker: Green levies would be removed from energy bills “in an ideal world”

Green levies that are currently added to consumers' energy bills would be removed from energy bills “in an ideal world”, according to climate change minister Greg Barker.

Speaking today at a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum event, Barker said that constraints due to the government’s deficit reduction programme mean that programmes paid for by levies on energy bills cannot be met through general taxation.

He said: “You have to see this in context of the wider problem we inherited, of this colossal deficit.

“The obvious answer to this is the fact that deficit reduction can’t be ignored and there simply isn’t the spare cash in treasury.”

Barker acknowledge that levies are “regressive” and “not the fairest” but added that “there is a balance to be struck”, which included removing levies on energy bills for the Renewable Heat Incentive and funding for the £1 billion Carbon Capture and Storage programme.

Barker also said that to get the best value for money, the government’s energy efficiency schemes should initially target houses built just after the Second World War

He said: “There are so many properties built in the last century, certainly from the 50s onwards, that are in an appalling state. In terms of the strategic focus, that should be in our immediate gun sights.”

Barker added that there are not currently a suitable range of insulation and energy efficiency products on the market that are suitable for homes built before this period.

“As the market grows and develops and products come from the market, costs come down, innovation and understanding increases, we should then be looking to tackle those older properties,” he said.

“Those without a damp course, for example, and that are solid wall, if you go and stick conventional products on them, there are going to be problems.”