Energy bills for millions of consumers could rise and power supplies may be more vulnerable if the UK votes to leave the EU later this week, says UNISON today (Monday).
On the day of its annual energy conference taking place in Brighton, UNISON is warning that the fanciful claims made by leave campaigners, who have promised cuts in energy bills, simply do not stack up.
UNISON says exiting the EU will not help tackle any of the key energy challenges currently facing the UK.
Instead going it alone could seriously harm the UK’s efforts to meet energy demands, make it hard for the country to satisfy its climate change obligations or cushion consumers from energy price hikes.
An uncertain future outside the EU and dwindling domestic resources such as North Sea gas have the potential to drive prices up considerably, says UNISON.
The vote leave campaign has said household bills could be cut because the UK would no longer have to abide by EU rules that stop member states from cutting VAT below 5%. But any cut to domestic energy bills would be more than swallowed up by the higher cost of supply that would result from Brexit, says UNISON.
Plans to provide new capacity to supply energy in the UK rely heavily on European energy firms, and EU withdrawal could also put this investment at risk, says UNISON. Among the projects with major European commitments is [Anchor] the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset, which is being financed to the tune of several billion pounds by French company EDF.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Outrageous claims as to how consumers would be better off were the UK to leave Europe are yet another attempt by the vote leave campaign to mislead the public.
“Rather than saving hard-pressed families money, energy costs for domestic use and for businesses are likely to go through the roof if we leave the EU. This would force many families into even greater fuel poverty and prompt UK firms to lay off workers.”
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