Boris Johnson promises action over rising energy bills
Boris Johnson says he is talking to Chancellor Rishi Sunak over how the government could help people with soaring energy prices.
The prime minister is under pressure to act on rising household costs ahead of further increases to capped bills due in April.
Some Tory MPs want cuts to green levies and VAT to help bring bills down while Labour, which also wants VAT suspended, is demanding higher taxes on oil and gas producers.
On Monday, Mr Johnson said ministers understood the difficulties people were facing, and “we’re certainly looking at what we can do”.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre, Mr Johnson said rises were driven by “general inflationary pressure” caused by the world economy “coming back from Covid”.
He added: “We’ve got to help people, particularly people in low incomes, we’ve got to help people with the cost of their fuel – and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Asked if he would meet Mr Sunak this week, he replied: “I’ve been meeting the chancellor constantly. I met the chancellor last night to talk about it.”
Mr Johnson is expected to hold his first formal discussions with Mr Sunak on Monday, although a decision on what to do is not expected imminently.
Trade body Energy UK predicts bills will surge by up to 50% in April when the change to the price cap, which will be decided in February, kicks in.
There have been warnings that average households could pay about £700 more per year amid surging prices for wholesale gas worldwide.
Labour has warned that the expected increase in the energy cap from April, in combination with the planned rise in National Insurance on workers, will lead to a cost of living crisis for many households.
The party wants an extra £3.5bn to be spent on the warm homes discount, increasing it from £140 to £400 per year, while doubling the number of households eligible to 9.3 million, around a third of the UK total.
It also wants to remove the 5% VAT rate on domestic energy bills from April for 12 months, which it says would produce an annual saving of £89 per household.
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