Does energy policy pass the “Erdington Test”?

16th Jan 2017


Last week I ended my weekly blog with a quote, (“runs directly against the interests of ordinary families”). but I deliberately didn’t reference it. I had a couple of enquiries, who came quite close to identifying the source. It was actually said by Nick Timothy, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, in a speech before she entered Downing Street, where he identified his Erdington (a working-class suburb of Birmingham) roots.

The speech itself is well worth a read because it specifically refers to energy policy as an area where the government has not been aligned with the views and interests of these ordinary families.
But you know that already, as I do. Whether you install a new boiler, fit a smart meter or deal with an emergency gas call-out, you know putting the customer first is what matters. And where policies don’t do this, we should point it out to government, it is a moral duty to do so. And now it seems, one of the most powerful figures in Number 10 also sees the world this way.
So my challenge to all of us in the industry is to highlight and support energy policies that allow government to have a “relentless focus on governing in the interests of ordinary, working people.” (Yes, I’ve quoted from the same speech again)
But what does that mean in practice? I’m not going to pick out now a list of what I believe are “winning energy policies” but I suggest shutting down the gas grid (still current government policy) is not one of them. What we do need to do is to start thinking, talking and acting with “Erdington Families” in mind. If policy proposals do not meet the Erdington test, then frankly that doesn’t auger well for them. That said, as an “Erdington-lad” myself, I have seen and heard so many good examples and practices, where the interest’s of ordinary working families are put first, that we deserve to get a good hearing in the corridors of power.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CE