Yvonne Fovargue MP: Tory failure will hit the pockets of us all
I know from my constituency postbag the concerns of people on this important issue and know that it will be a huge worry for many in our area.
We have known for months that a massive increase in energy prices was coming that will push millions of households into fuel stress. National Energy Action estimates that four million households were in fuel poverty in the UK at the start of October last year.
It warns that this will rise to 6.5 million when the price cap increases again in April. I therefore agree that we need action on this issue.
In the House of Commons Labour called on the Tories to introduce a package of support for families facing the energy price crisis.
This included immediately reducing VAT on energy bills to zero and smoothing the costs of energy supplier failure – together saving most households around £200 – and increasing the Warm Home Discount to £400 while extending it to nine million families.
This would have taken £600 off the energy bills of those most in need.
These measures would last for one year from April and would be partly funded through a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers.
Unfortunately, the Tories rejected this plan. Instead, it has announced measures worth only £350 off household bills – including £200 that will not come until October and that bill payers will have to pay back as a surcharge later, and a £150 council tax rebate that many pensioners and people on low incomes will not automatically be eligible for.
With Ofgem, the energy regulator, confirming a £693 increase in the energy price cap, these measures will still leave families in Britain – including some of the poorest – paying hundreds of pounds more for their energy from April.
Indeed, I know that National Energy Action has described the proposals as “woefully inadequate” and said they fail the test of protecting the most vulnerable.
The Tories have systematically failed to properly regulate our energy market, leading to dozens of energy companies going bust, with all of us footing the bill.
They made the complacent choice to slash the amount of gas storage and leave us reliant on foreign suppliers like Russia.
We don’t make or build anything under the Tories – whether PPE or power plants, it comes back to bite us in a crisis.
This has happened on their watch. They have failed to meet the vast potential of British renewable and nuclear energy. And they’ve failed to make enough of our homes warm and well-insulated.
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