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Widespread public anger at energy company profits and rising bills has been revealed in a new poll commissioned by Compass and Friends of the Earth, which shows overwhelming public support for the Government to call an independent public inquiry into the power of the Big Six energy firms (86%) – and to impose a levy on their excessive profits (71%).

In the week energy giant EDF posted huge profits and with Centrica’s profit announcement due next Thursday, the results add pressure on the Chancellor to introduce a levy on the Big Six energy companies in March’s Budget.

The YouGov survey shows 77% of people want money raised from a levy to be ring-fenced to help with people’s energy bills by making homes more energy efficient.

And it reveals strong support for clean British energy – 70% of people want the Government to force the big energy companies to end our reliance on imported coal and gas by investing in power from the UK’s wind, sun, waves and tides.

Thousands of people have this week signed a new petition backing a levy on the energy firms, and more than 26,000 have already joined Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign for a public inquiry into the Big Six’s influence on politicians.

Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP has tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for a levy on the Big Six energy companies’ profits - expected to win the support of over 100 MPs.

Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth said:

“The Big Six energy firms are making massive profits from keeping us hooked on dirty coal and expensive imported gas.

“We all lost out from the Government’s failure to stand up to the banks – now we need touch action into the ongoing scandal of cold homes, rip-off bills and the Big Six’s influence over our politicians.

“The Chancellor must act immediately to ensure levies on energy bills are spent on making homes warmer and cheaper to heat, rather than disappearing into Treasury coffers.”

Gavin Hayes, General Secretary of Compass said:

“While many freeze, a few profit - this week we’ve heard of excessive energy profiteering at EDF, next week we’ll hear of excessive profiteering at Centrica.

“This is why it’s now time the Big Six paid a levy to redress this balance. Indeed our polling shows over two thirds of the public support a levy on excessive energy profits.

“The Government now has a simple choice – are they on the side of the Big Six energy giants – or are they on the side of the people?”


Notes to editors

  1. The YouGov poll was carried out online 16 - 17 February 2012. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Total sample size was 1,772 adults. 
  2. End the Big Six Energy Fix is a cross-party coalition campaigning for affordable energy.
  3. Friends of the Earth's Final Demand campaign, which was launched in October last year, calls for energy we can all afford and a public inquiry into the power and influence of the Big Six energy companies.
If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust