Alastair Stewart slams energy companies over cost of living
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The global fossil fuel energy crisis, which was aggravated by the war in Ukraine, has hit Britons hard, as the average annual bill is forecast to rise above £4,000. This figure is more than three times higher than what people were paying a month ago, meaning that families will be thrust into fuel poverty, leaving not much income once they’ve paid for the electricity and gas.
In light of this, two of the country’s largest energy suppliers, Octopus Energy and Centrica, which owns British Gas, reportedly back a plan that seeks to freeze customer bills for two years.
The plan, which is being debated in the industry, would aim to create a multibillion-pound facility that could spread the cost of an emergency funding package over a decade, according to the Guardian.
Under this scheme, commercial banks would deposit cash into a state-backed fund, which suppliers could then draw on to meet the difference, rather than raising the price cap on energy bills, which is currently at £1,971.
The cost of such a scheme would then be paid back to over the next 10 to 15 years through an additional levy.
The Octopus chief executive, Greg Jackson, told the Guardian “urgent action” was needed and the tariff deficit fund was among the options the government should consider taking.
He said: “Because of the war in Ukraine, the UK is having to pay £51bn extra for its gas – the equivalent of 9p on the basic rate of income tax.
“Urgent action is needed to help people through this winter, whether it be a doubling of the existing government support scheme, freezing the price cap, or a private-sector initiative like the tariff deficit proposal.
“And we need concerted effort to reduce the problem by next winter through more efficiency, renewables, gas storage and market reform.”
A spokesperson for Centrica declined to comment on discussions with the Government but said: “It’s clear a significant intervention is needed to protect customers.
“There are many ideas being discussed but each needs to be assessed carefully to ensure it’s in the customer’s long-term interest and to avoid any unintended consequences.”
Mr Jackson has repeatedly advocated for the soaring energy bills to be spread out over longer periods of time.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he previously warned of the risks of not tackling rising inflation, saying: “We’ve got inflation running at close to 10 percent, and once you get into an inflationary spiral that is very hard to get us out of.
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“So, spreading costs over a long period of time reduces the impacts on inflation, and that stops the spiral.
“With spirals the problem as we’ve seen, energy prices are flowing through everything in the economy, and that’s the thing that if you’re not careful, everyone’s chasing [inflation] up.
“Spreading is beneficial, it helps hard-pressed customers and it helps reduce the inflationary spiral.”
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