Downing Street blocks energy-saving information campaign

Jacob Rees-Mogg had backed the public information campaign - Anadolu
Jacob Rees-Mogg had backed the public information campaign - Anadolu

An information campaign urging the public to conserve energy backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg has been rejected by Downing Street.

The Business Secretary signed off plans for a £15 million campaign, including television and newspaper adverts advising people to turn off radiators in empty rooms and switch off the heating before going out.

But Downing Street on Thursday rejected the proposals, arguing that the information was already available, The Times reported. The campaign was “light touch” and the measures could have saved people up to £300 a year.

Plans to advise people to turn down their thermostats were dropped after concerns from health officials that elderly people may get dangerously cold.

Other tips, such as turning off the lights or electrical appliances, were dismissed over their negligible impact on the power grid. The plan was internally known as the “energy demand reduction campaign”.

Mr Rees-Mogg had approved the proposals in recent days but Downing Street shut the project down on Thursday.

As well as feeling the information was already accessible to the public, Liz Truss was said to be “ideologically opposed” amid fears it would be seen as overly interventionist.

Instead, the Government will look at "signposting" existing public advice, The Times reported.

A Government source told the paper: “It’s a stupid decision. The campaign was entirely practical, it was about saving people money. It wasn’t about lecturing them.”

It comes amid mounting concerns over energy rationing, which the prime minister failed on Thursday to rule out.

Ms Truss has previously said she would not be telling people to ration their energy use this winter.

A Government spokesman said: "The UK has a secure and diverse energy system. We have plans to protect households and businesses in the full range of scenarios this winter, in light of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

“To strengthen this position further, we have put plans in place to secure supply and National Grid, working alongside energy suppliers and Ofgem, will launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times.

"We will continue to work internationally on tackling rising energy prices and ensuring security of supply, but there are no current plans to follow the EU’s decision.

“However, Ministers are not launching a public information campaign and any claim otherwise is untrue.”