Snap poll: voters concerned over energy security and bills following Labour U-turn

Respondents thought U-turn meant Labour had “no real plan for what it would do differently if it wins power”

Profile picture of George Smeeton

By George Smeeton

info@eciu.net

Information on this page correct as of:

New polling by Opinium for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that only 14% of people were ‘very aware’ of Labour’s proposed £28 billion a year investment plans, but roughly double (26%) were very aware of the recent U-turn on the plan [1].

Double the number of people (31%) thought the decision would have a negative impact on the “cost of energy bills for ordinary people” versus those (15%) who thought the impact on bills would be positive. Likewise, roughly double (33%) thought it would have a negative impact on “Britain's ability to control its own energy supply” verses those (17%) who thought it would be positive.

More people (43%) thought the U-turn meant Labour had “no real plan for what it would do differently if it wins power” than agreed (25%) that it showed “if it wins power, it will be responsible with the nation's finances”.

Of those respondents in constituencies lost by Labour since 2005, 44% thought the U-turn showed it “has no real plan for what it would do differently if it wins power”, compared with 22% who thought it showed “if it wins power, it will be responsible with the nation's finances”.

Alasdair Johnstone, Political Analyst, from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Many more voters are seeing this negatively than positively. It is somewhat akin to the Prime Minister taking a dent in his approval ratings in the wake of his speech rowing back on some net zero policies in September.

“Beyond the politics, the public are concerned that a lack of investment will lead to higher bills and less energy security. Indeed, failure to invest enough in insulating homes and expanding renewables has left us more exposed during the recent gas crisis costing households thousands of pounds.

“The public need coherent, well communicated plans that address our dependence on volatile gas markets, otherwise the ambition of energy independence is just rhetoric to them. The North Sea is inevitably declining which means for energy security the UK needs well-insulated homes that waste less gas, heat pumps and EVs that run on British electricity and renewables that cut the need for imported gas in power stations. If we don’t do that, energy imports go up and emissions don’t come down.”

On which of two main parties are most trusted on energy and climate change, the largest response was neither (42%).

Previous polling found that a majority of the public supported the previous incarnation of Labour’s green investment plans. Nearly half (45%) said the pledge was “necessary” compared to a third (32%) who thought it was “reckless” [2].

The support ranked higher among business leaders. A poll conducted by Focaldata for ECIU showed that over three-quarters (79%) of business leaders would support a similar green investment package as the one introduced by United States. Over two thirds (66%) said of Labour’s green investment packaged “right now this plan brings more opportunities than risks” [3].

Jess Ralston, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: Those focusing on the date miss the point that we simply need to shift up a gear. The Government’s fumbled renewables auction last year cost bill payers £1bn when it failed to secure new offshore wind farms. The gas crisis of the past two years means the public are keen to shift away from our dependence on volatile gas markets. 'Just get on with it' is what business is saying.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. Polling conducted by Opinium. Fieldwork started on 8th February 2024 after Labour made their announcement and ran until 9th February. The sample is 1,384 UK adults, weighted to be nationally representative.
  2. Poll: Brits back green investment, £28bn and Government Battery Factory: https://eciu.net/media/press-releases/2023/poll-brits-back-green-investment-28bn-and-government-battery-factory-support
  3. Business Leaders Poll, Government U-turns damaging investor confidence: https://eciu.net/media/press-releases/2023/autumn-statement-polling-mps-and-business-leaders-agree-government-u-turns-damaging-to-investor-confidence-in-uk

For more information or for interview requests:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: +44 (0)7894 571 153, email: george.smeeton@eciu.net