London: UK households need to “look at” how they are using energy, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi suggested amid calls for urgent government intervention to tackle soaring bills.
It comes as outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson predicted a “tough” few months ahead, but promised energy prices will eventually come down amid grim predictions about the impact the 80.06 per cent rise in the price cap will have on millions of the poorest households across the UK, reports dpa news agency.
Zahawi stressed on Friday that the government is not paralysed by the leadership contest and is focused on preparing options for whichever candidate emerges as the winner.
The ruling Conservative party is in the process of selecting a new leader, due to be announced in early September.
The Chancellor told reporters that help from the government is coming, but admitted: “We know that’s not enough. We’ve got to do more. We need to make sure that this isn’t a sticking plaster, that for the long term we continue to help the most vulnerable who have no cushion, and that’s what I’m determined to do.
“And we’re working up those options for both households and for business for the incoming prime minister on September 5 to take those decisions.
“So my message today is, ‘We’ll get this 37 billion to people to help them for now, and then more will be coming because we know this will continue in January and, of course, on to April and next year and we have to remain resilient’.”
Zahawi also acknowledged that it is perhaps now the time to give greater heed to how we use energy.
“The reality is that we should all look at our energy consumption. It is a difficult time. There is war on our continent,” he said.
This week, the Chancellor has been meeting with bosses from generating firms including Orsted, Newcleo and RWE to discuss what more the industry can do to ensure markets function effectively for consumers.
The Treasury said he had been “clear” that the companies “need to do more to support their customers”, instead of relying on behaviour changes or expecting the Government alone to help people.
Meanwhile, Johnson, entering his final few days in office, said the government has a “big, big package of help and support”.
“There’s a pipeline of cash coming through over the next few months and through the autumn and the winter. But that is clearly now going to be augmented, increased, by extra cash that the Government is plainly going to be announcing in September.”
Opposition politicians, industry regulator Ofgem and campaigners were all united on Friday in calling on the government to intervene urgently, as charities warned that households across the country could be plunged into poverty by the soaring energy bills.