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Richard North, 11/11/2012  


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The Sun is on to a good story, reporting that "shamed ex-energy secretary Chris Huhne has landed a lucrative job - with an ENERGY firm". 

In typical lurid style, the paper tells us that "the love rat Lib Dem got the £42,000-a-year advisory post with 'green' Nationwide Energy Services, just months after being forced to quit the Cabinet".

The latest register of MPs' interests, it says, shows that Huhne - who is waiting to stand trial alongside ex-wife Vicky Pryce over an alleged speeding scam - is working as a consultant for the firm. Last month he got £20,500, made up of a £10,000 signing-on fee and advance payments of £3,500 for October, November and December.

Nationwide Energy Services, according to The Sun "boasts of being poised to deliver the Government's 'green deal' drive to make homes more energy efficient" – but it is perhaps being far too gentle. Far from being an "energy" company, per se, it was set up to exploit the Government's CERT scheme (Carbon Emission Reduction Targets), milking government funds to provide "free" home insulation to old age pensioners.

Having acquired a reputation as a high-powered scam artists, operating out of a call-centre in a heavily-subsidised industrial park in Swansea, is in fact a subsidiary of an equally dubious group called Save Britain Money, which markets, amongst other things, debt management services and handles PPI misselling claims.

Beloved by the BBC, it was founded by "businessman" and CEO Neville "Nev" Wilshire. Currently, it employs over 600 staff, mostly minimum wage call-centre operators, with a further 1,000 "in the field", mainly self-employed "energy consultants" working across the UK on a "commission-only" basis.

It has enjoyed a meteoric rise since being established in 2005, when it employed 16 staff to exploit Welsh Government household insulation grants, having cut its teeth on lucrative Swansea Council grants for improving housing stock.

Now planning to become a major "Green Deal" provider, "Nev" also supports the Energy Bill Revolution, which claims to be an alliance "of children's and older people's charities, health and disability groups, environment groups, consumer groups, trade unions, businesses, politicians and public figures".

This is in fact run by Transform UK, "set up in January 2009 to identify and deliver transformational solutions for accelerating investment into the low carbon economy to help build climate, energy and economic security". 

Transform UK is itself a front organisation for the Friends of the Earth, although it is "hosted" by E3G (Building Third Generation Environmentalism) which has received funding from DEFRA, the Shell Foundation and WWF.

Its "Energy Bill Revolution" operation, we are told, "campaigns for the government to direct the money it acquires from carbon tax revenue into creating energy efficient UK homes".  Indirectly, therefore, it is funded by the government (not least through DEFRA), but if it manages to open the tap further, a substantial proportion of the carbon tax funds will end up in "Nev's" pocket if he plays his cards right – hence him employing the cut-price Chris Huhne.

So we come full circle, finding another of those shabby networks of influence aimed at shaping government policy to their own liking, so filling their pockets at our expense. How unsurprising it is that a crook like Huhne should be tied up in it somewhere. Look anywhere at "green" money and you will find the slime feeding off it.

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