Tory leadership: We ask the public's opinion on Tory contest
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As the cost-of-living continues to send shockwaves through the nation, all eyes will be on the country’s future leader to resolve one of the biggest political questions of the moment – how to fix the energy crisis. And with the energy price cap tipped to soar to around £3,200 (maximum annual tariff) in October, industry regulator Ofgem has warned this could push around 12 million people into fuel poverty.
While this issue has persisted for months on end, many have been left scratching their heads at the level of Government intervention and the direction policy has taken, with particular concerns over how the most vulnerable households will be protected.
Despite schemes like the Council Tax Rebate, back in February National Energy Action said all measures were “woefully inadequate and will leave those on the lowest incomes and in the least efficient homes in deep peril”.
Since then, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled measures such as a one-off ‘cost of living payment’ of £650, a Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners and a Household Support Fund.
In fact, one-third of all households will benefit from the cost-of-living payments.
But coupled with this is climate issues. It is now largely recognised that a transition to clean, cheaper energy is needed to slash emissions and prevent a crisis like this one repeating itself in the future.
Despite Mr Sunak’s measures to assist with bills, George Bridges, chair of the Lords economic affairs committee, has warned there is no plan to reliable or affordable energy to help the UK survive future price shocks.
With energy prices largely soaring due to Russian gas squeezes in Europe, Mr Bridges argues in an opinion piece for the Financial Times that this has been a “wake-up call” exposing the vulnerabilities in the country’s energy security.
Despite this, Mr Bridges said there “are steps that could be taken now to mitigate its impact over the next few winters”, though he noted that these measures would not immediately knock money off energy bills in the short term.
It comes after a six-month inquiry by the Lords economic affairs committee found that “the Government lacks an overarching net zero delivery plan which takes account of energy security, setting out what needs to be done by whom and by when”.
To resolve this, Mr Bridges stressed that the next Prime Minister needs to focus on things like “speedier home insulation and other measures to improve energy efficiency”.
He added: “Ways are already being sought to provide incentives to local communities for onshore wind farms in their area; given they can be built relatively quickly, ministers should now re-examine their ambitions.”
Both remaining candidates in the contest to become Prime Minister have said they back net zero.
And in the debate between Mr Sunak and Liz Truss on BBC One tonight, Mr Sunak did highlight the importance of thinking about the problem in the long-term.
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Like Mr Bridges suggested, the former Chancellor mentioned the importance of better insulating homes and helping with energy efficiency.
He said: “I think there is a couple of things we can do (in the long term). The first is to help people with energy efficiency…We know that there are millions of homes that needs better insulation. If we can do that then we can help people save £300 off their energy bills.
“And we need more homegrown energy here at home because if we have more affordable sources of British energy, this is how we will solve the problem.”
Ms Truss called for a temporary moratorium on the green energy levy, which she said would “help cut money from fuel bills” and would come in “straight away”.
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