Government warned of public backlash over gas prices

The government has been warned by the EUA that it faces a major public backlash if it attempts to use an increase in domestic gas prices as a way of forcing homeowners to buy expensive low carbon heating appliances in own homes.

A consultation is due to launch shortly which is believed will propose an increase to gas prices to encourage consumers to ditch their gas boiler in favour of an electric alternative, such as a heat pump. However, a new survey of homeowners has found that the public is opposed to this approach, with predictions of a public backlash made by some senior politicians, highly likely.

It found that four in ten voters (40%) would be ‘less likely to vote’ for a government that announced an increase in the price of gas as a way of encouraging people to switch from boiler to heat pumps.

Three quarters would support reducing VAT on domestic gas, something that was promised by senior Ministers during the Brexit campaign, as European Union rules on VAT no longer apply.

Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) who commissioned the online research of 2,000 homeowners, said a move to increase levies on the price of gas would be a kick in the teeth of hard-pressed.

He said: “During the referendum campaign people were promised that, if we came out of Europe, we would be able to set our own levels of VAT on domestic fuel and that this would allow the government to reduce VAT and effectively cut fuel bills. They have been let down.

“But to make matters worse, Whitehall officials are now planning to force the price of gas up, to encourage consumers to rip out their gas boiler in favour of a £10,000 heat pump.

“Some politicians get it. Others need to start taking back control from Whitehall officials who are planning to make politicians look ridiculous. Far from cutting gas bills, they are set to increase. It will be a gross breach of trust and a very reckless political move for any political party to make.”