Liz Truss ‘simply wrong’ to veto energy-saving campaign, say Tory MPs

Liz Truss - Alistair Grant
Liz Truss - Alistair Grant

Liz Truss is facing a backlash from Tory MPs over her “simply wrong” decision to veto a campaign to encourage Britons to use less energy this winter.

Senior backbenchers expressed dismay after it emerged the Prime Minister had blocked a £15 million publicity blitz drawn up by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Business Secretary had already signed off on the plans, which were described as “light touch” and designed to help households save £300 a year.

The campaign would have advised people to lower the temperature of boilers, turn off radiators in empty rooms and switch off the heating when they go out.

Mr Rees-Mogg had planned to promote the energy-saving changes with an advertising campaign on TV and radio, newspapers and social media.

But the Prime Minister was “ideologically opposed” to what she saw as too interventionist an approach and blocked the proposal, according to The Times.

'This is not nanny state'

Guy Opperman, a former work and pensions minister, said he was “fully behind an energy saving campaign” and the decision to veto it was “simply wrong”.

“Reduction in energy helps constituents save money, saves the taxpayer money, as [the] public sector should lead the way,” the Tory MP said.

“Reduce usage, while we address supply. Government must act. This is not nanny state. It is preserving supply, saving money for everyone, and encouraging localism.”

Mr Opperman said the approach taken by other European nations like Germany, where the government is encouraging people to reduce consumption, is “worth following”.

“Not engaging with the public expenditure on this issue is simply wrong. Consuming energy when you don’t have to is foolhardy,” he said.

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee, retweeted a message questioning the decision to scrap the campaign.

Maria Caulfield, a fellow Tory MP and a former health minister, said she was “all for an energy saving campaign this winter”.

But she queried whether there was a need to spend £15 million on it, adding: “The PM is right to question if this is the best use of taxpayers money.”

'Absolute lunacy'

Graham Stuart, the energy minister, defended the decision to scrap the publicity blitz insisting: “We are not a nanny state government."

"The idea there was some highly developed campaign which we were passionately devoted to and No 10 nixed it, I don't recognise that,” he added.

The decision was leapt on by Labour, which described it as “absolute lunacy” that showed the Tories “are not on the side of ordinary people”.

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, said: “It is entirely sensible to give the public factual information about how they can save money on energy bills.

“Blocking it because of ideological dogma is another failure piled on 12 years of Tory failed energy policy for which the British people are paying the price.”

Bill Esterson, a shadow business minister, said: “It’s beyond belief that the Conservatives have decided not to give out information on how to reduce their energy bills.”

“Ideologically opposed to giving the public information? Sounds like business as usual to me,” added Justin Madders, the shadow employment rights minister.

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.