Cut-and-paste government

This very morning Malcolm felt moved to post his recent exchanges  with his MP, the delectable Ms Lynn Featherstone, over #combishambles.

To his total bestaggerment he had a fulsome and early reply. As promised, here it is in full (though why it presents itself on the screen in a tasteful dark blue is another matter):

Dear Mr Redfellow,

Thank you very much for your recent correspondence regarding the Government’s policy on energy bills. This is an issue I am deeply concerned about and I appreciate your worry. The recent price increases by large energy companies has the potential to make winter a struggle for many people. According to Consumer Focus, last winter 63% of people in London were unsure as to whether they could afford to pay their energy bills.

 As a Government we are working to lessen the effects of the rising prices of energy as far as possible. On 17 October 2012 it was announced that the Government would use the Energy Bill to get people the lowest tariffs. With this announcement we are taking the next step on our agreement with the energy companies that they should provide information on energy bills that clearly shows customers whether they are on the cheapest tariff offered by their energy company – and if they are not, shows exactly how much they would save if they switched to the cheapest tariff, and how they can do so.

 We are taking a number of other steps to ensure that people are saving as much as possible on their bills. We are working to secure our energy at the lowest cost: in the short term by promoting competition; in the medium term by insulating our homes and in the long term by steering us away from excessive reliance on fossil fuels and on to clean, green and secure energy. Consumers can save up to £200 a year by switching suppliers or tariffs, so we will make it easier to switch. Customers will have the right to be switched within three weeks once their cooling-off period has elapsed. Energy suppliers will be under a new obligation to speed up their switching processes.

 From December 2011, four million of the most vulnerable energy customers received letters to tell them they were eligible for free or heavily-discounted insulation to their loft or cavity walls, provided by the energy suppliers. We have introduced the Warm Homes Discount – a new mandatory scheme whereby the energy companies must offer rebates to vulnerable households giving £130 a year to the poorest pensioners. This will benefit the poorest 600,000 pensioners, with some support available for other groups. It is projected that 2 million households a year will benefit.

 Equally we are preserving the Winter Fuel Payment on the same basis as budgeted by Labour. Winter Fuel Payments are annual tax-free lump sums given to almost everyone aged 60 or over to help towards their winter heating costs. We will also be boosting the Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments made during periods of extreme cold weather to vulnerable households. We are investing an extra £50 million a year in ensuring the increase in Cold Weather Payments to £25 per payment is made permanent. Around 4.2 million people, defined as those in receipt of certain benefits, are currently eligible for Cold Weather Payments.

 As a Government we are delivering energy efficiency through the Green Deal, spearheaded by Lib Dem MP, Ed Davey. Every British home and business will be able to install packages of energy-saving technologies such as insulation, worth up to £10,000, at no upfront cost, with repayments made over time out of the energy savings. The Green Deal is expected to kick start around £14 billion of private sector investment over the next decade and could support at least 65,000 insulation and construction jobs by 2015.

 Another factor that is key to ensuring fairness is independent regulation of the energy market. We support Ofgem in its efforts to make the energy market more transparent and more competitive. We are committed to a framework of independent economic regulation for the energy sector and to Ofgem as the independent regulator.

Equally important is breaking up the dominance of the Big Six. The Big Six energy companies currently dominate the domestic market with a 98 per cent share. Ofgem are developing proposals for ‘Mandatory Auctions’ to force the Big Six to sell 25 per cent of their power. This represents nearly half of all household power use in Britain and should allow plenty of liquidity for independent suppliers and potential new entrants to expand their businesses. Ofgem will publish final proposals in the winter.

 

I will certainly support a bill that ensures people pay less for their energy. Please do not hesitate to get in touch again if you would like to discuss this matter or if you think there is anything further I can do as your Parliamentary representative.

 Just for your information, my staff ask for the addresses of people that contact me as I receive approximately four hundred emails a week from constituents. I’m sure you will appreciate that it would become very difficult to provide my constituents with the service they expect if I was also answering correspondence that should have been sent to other MPs. For example, the N10 postcode is covered by Hornsey and Wood Green, Finchley and Golders Green, and Chipping Barnet constituencies. However, I do understand you might not want to give out your personal details, and I hope the above has answered your queries.

 Kind regards

 Ahem!

First resort is to take key clauses and phrases from that and Google them. Then the fun begins.

A useful aide-memoire is last Thursday’s politicshome post:

You always know a Government is in trouble when they dish out a ‘Lines to Take’ document to MPs.

I’ve been passed a copy of the latest Coalition lines on #energyshambles and it makes a fascinating read. Particularly the ‘hostile questions’ section …

Malcolm, an inveterate (if easily bored) literary exegesist, has so far found double-figures of precise copying from A to B.  You may do better.

For example:

  1. Conservative HQ (via PoliticsHome):  From December 2011, four million of the most vulnerable energy customers received letters to tell them they were eligible for free or heavily-discounted insulation to their loft or cavity walls, provided by the energy suppliers ...
  2. Lynne Featherstone MP: From December 2011, four million of the most vulnerable energy customers received letters to tell them they were eligible for free or heavily-discounted insulation to their loft or cavity walls, provided by the energy suppliers.

Just to prove that wasn’t a one-off:

  1. Conservative HQ (via PoliticsHome): … we are preserving the Winter Fuel Payment on the same basis as budgeted by Labour … Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments made during periods of extreme cold weather to vulnerable households. We are investing an extra £50 million a year in ensuring the increase in Cold Weather Payments to £25 per payment is made permanent.
  2. Lynne Featherstone MP: …  we are preserving the Winter Fuel Payment on the same basis as budgeted by Labour. Winter Fuel Payments are annual tax-free lump sums given to almost everyone aged 60 or over to help towards their winter heating costs. We will also be boosting the Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments made during periods of extreme cold weather to vulnerable households. We are investing an extra £50 million a year in ensuring the increase in Cold Weather Payments to £25 per payment is made permanent.

Uncanny? Great minds think alike?

The plagiarism continues to the point of distraction:

  1. Virendra Sharma MP (since deleted): 63% of people in London are unsure whether they can afford to pay their energy bills this winter according to the watchdog Consumer Focus
  2. Lynne Featherstone MP: According to Consumer Focus, last winter 63% of people in London were unsure as to whether they could afford to pay their energy bills.

Conclusion: A direct steal from the Labour MP for Ealing, Southall — but other parallels are available. Looks like a Commons Library source.

Now, here’s another bit of parallel-thinking:

  1. Department of Energy hand-out to MPsCustomers who have never switched can save up to £200 a year by changing energy supplier and paying by direct debit.
  2. Lynne Featherstone MP: Consumers can save up to £200 a year by switching suppliers or tariffs, so we will make it easier to switch.

Let’s admit it: Lynne Featherstone MP, fighting for political survival and the Tory Party —

Great fleas … lesser fleas … and so ad infinitum

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Filed under Conservative Party policy., Lib Dems, Lynne Featherstone, Muswell Hill, politics, politicshome, Tories.

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