The IfG response to the British Energy Security Strategy

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Olly Bartrum; Tom Sasse

April 8, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the Energy Security Strategy and its short-term and long-term implications.

The government claims its new energy strategy will boost the UK’s ‘energy security’ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spurred deep concern about energy security across Europe. This is largely because many EU member states would face a very real threat to physical security of supply if oil and gas pipelines to Europe from Russia – increasingly sanctioned in other areas – were to be completely cut off. Although the UK might not directly face immediate threats to short-term physical supply, the increase in prices faced by the public was cited as one of the main motivations for government developing this strategy. In other words, the government was motivated by a short-term surge in energy bills to develop a plan to shore up the country’s physical and geopolitical security. The danger of relying on the market to deliver security and affordability has been pointed out numerous times by experts. The timing of many of the policies also raises serious questions. Energy prices are hitting users hard now – the UK average energy bill went up by more than 50% on 1 April, just a week before the strategy’s release – and by the business secretary’s own admission, the strategy is “more of a medium three, four, five year answer”. This short paper outlines the Institute for Government’s response to the British Energy Security Strategy, and finds: The strategy offered no new short-term measures to help increase supply, reduce demand or cushion the impact of high prices. The strategy also falls short of setting out a compelling medium-term response. The strategy largely focuses on more longer-term energy choices.