Energy bills will keep soaring as ministers cannot do anything to protect consumers, energy secretary Ed Davey warned.
The Lib Dem minister's comments come after SSE, Britain's second largest energy supplier, unveiled a 8% price increase, which sparked a renewed debate on why firms were increasing bills. Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged last month to freeze prices for 20 months if he wins the next general election.
Other firms from the 'big six' are set to follow SSE's 8.2% price hike in announcing their own in the next few days.
However, Davey said that outside pressures like the rising cost of wholesale gas and the need to replace power networks, which "neither you nor Ed Miliband can do anything about".
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Rising energy prices have led to calls from Tories to cut green levies, which add £110 to an average annual bill.
However, Davey slapped down demands to cut government green subsidies, telling the BBC Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “We have to invest in renewable energy to catch up with the rest of Europe."
“People have got to understand what these green taxes actually are. Most of them are actually social policies to help the fuel poor manage their bills. I don’t think we want to get rid of those, do we? Moreover, we need to help people who aren’t necessarily fuel poor, but who want to do energy efficiency work to reduce their bills.”
Davey said the schemes would be extended rather than cut, adding: "I do believe we need to do ever more to help people, particularly vulnerable people, people suffering from fuel poverty."
Pre-election economy debate April 15, 2010
Two things you may not believe. 1. Nick Clegg, for one brief, fleeting and glorious moment, was really popular. His performance in this debate gave a massive boost to the Lib Dems in the polls and gave the whole race a kick up the behind. 2. Clegg and Cameron were rivals <em>before</em> they were in a coalition together.
Cameron welcomes Clegg to Downing Street May 12, 2010
Imagine you live in a house that's ok, not great, just ok. Now imagine you have this "mate", who you don't really like but you've got to hang round with him because your mates are mates with his mates and your wives get on, that kind of thing. Now imagine that this "mate" that you secretly can't stand has a really, <em>really</em>, nice house that you would absolutely love and he invites you round. I'm pretty sure that's how Clegg felt here.
The Downing Street Rose Garden May 12, 2010
Cameron once called Clegg his favourite joke. Ouch. Obviously that came back to haunt him pretty quick. The funniest thing about this clip though isn't the joke, it's the harrowing and completely un-heart-felt cry of "come back!" from Cameron.
Birmingham Mar 24, 2011
Without the patience to wait for the seven-year-itch, Cameron and Clegg instead let 11 months pass before letting the cracks appear. After a rather heated debate, Clegg could be heard commenting to Cameron that if they carried on like this they wouldn't have anything left to argue about.
Leveson Inquiry November 29, 2012
In a hugely symbolic move, Clegg insisted on making a separate statement on the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. Although the Government insisted it did not represent "a massive split or disagreement", few could fail to see the significance.
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