COMMONS

No one protected interests of consumers in Hinkley power deal

22 November 2017

The Public Accounts Committee report says Government must now deliver on promises of wider benefits to UK businesses, workers and apprentices

Concern consumers are locked into 35 year deal

Hinkley Point C is the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK since 1995.

The Committee is concerned consumers are locked into an expensive deal lasting 35 years and that the Government did not revisit the terms between the original decision to go ahead and now, despite estimated costs to the consumer having risen five-fold during that time.

Over the life of the contract, consumers are left footing the bill and the poorest consumers will be hit hardest. Yet in all the negotiations no part of Government was really championing the consumer interest.

Government must act now to firm up its vague promises

As the financial case for Hinkley has weakened, the Government has talked up the boost to jobs and skills that Hinkley will generate. But the Government has no clear plan of how these so-called wider benefits will be achieved, or crucially how it will measure success.

We have seen other large infrastructure projects promise a lot of jobs and skills and not deliver. The Government must act now to firm up its vague promises of wider benefits so UK workers, supply chain businesses and apprentices can see tangible benefits.

With Brexit looming delivering a plan for the wider benefits has even more urgency as we cannot be sure that we will attract the necessary skills from overseas.

Chair's comments

Comment from Public Accounts Chair, Meg Hillier MP:

"Bill-payers have been dealt a bad hand by the Government in its approach to this project.

Its blinkered determination to agree the Hinkley deal, regardless of changing circumstances, means that for years to come energy consumers will face costs running to many times the original estimate.

The Government made some grave strategic errors here and must now explain what it will do to ensure these are not repeated.

But more than that, it must deliver the supposed wider benefits of this project—benefits Government has talked up progressively as the case for Hinkley Point C has weakened, but which it has no plan to secure.

There is clearly scope to link the nuclear programme to the wider strategy of driving economic opportunities and growth.

Government credibility in this area will inevitably be questioned when—by its own admission—it doesn't know what UK workers and business will gain from this project, and appears to have no coherent idea of what to do about it."

Further information

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