Critics slam Govt's energy campaign

A £6 million government campaign to encourage people to save energy and cut bills has been attacked as "a drop in the ocean" compared with the huge advertising budgets of the energy companies.

On Wednesday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched a new phase of its "act on CO2" campaign, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

But MPs and pressure groups expressed concern that the campaign would be dwarfed by those from the energy companies. The top six - Npower, E.ON, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy and British Gas - spent £58.5 million in total on marketing in the first six months of 2008, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle said: "The amounts being spent by energy companies to persuade people to use more energy would be better used to help the poorest people reduce their bills."

He called on the regulator Ofgem to consider the level of adspend as part of its investigation into the energy market.