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Miliband pledges energy bill freeze
Gas and electricity prices will be frozen for homes and businesses for 20 months after the 2015 general election if Labour wins power, Ed Miliband has announced.
The Labour leader said the move would save the typical household £120 and an average business £1,800 between May 2015 and January 2017.
But the dramatic policy put him on collision course with the "Big Six" energy companies, which stand to lose an estimated £4.5 billion and have not been consulted on the scheme.
Speaking to Labour's annual conference in Brighton, Mr Miliband said: "The companies won't like it because it will cost them money. But they have been overcharging people for too long because the market doesn't work. It's time to reset the market."
Mr Miliband accused the coalition Government of allowing energy prices to get out of control because David Cameron did not have "the strength to stand up to the strong".
Families' energy bills have risen by almost £300 since the coalition took office in 2010, and companies now say that energy is the second biggest cost they face, after wages.
A report by consumer group Which? last weekend estimated that flaws in the market had left consumers paying £3.9 billion a year over the odds.
Mr Miliband told the Labour conference that soaring energy prices were part of a "cost-of-living crisis" which had left ordinary people struggling to pay their bills, while the proceeds of the UK's economic recovery were siphoned off by a "privileged few".
Labour has already announced it will legislate to force energy companies to separate into energy generation and retail arms, to create more competition, and will abolish regulator Ofgem and replace it with a new watchdog with sharper teeth. But Mr Miliband said that these reforms will not kick in until the start of 2017.
But he said he was not willing to stand by in the meantime, telling delegates: "If we win the next election in 2015, the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will be frozen, benefiting millions of families and millions of businesses. That's what I mean by a government that fights for you, that's what I mean when I say: Britain can do better than this."