Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said he was “deeply concerned” that some Brits could freeze this winter if they can’t afford to pay their energy bills.
The cabinet minister admitted that the current support package to help people deal with the situation “wasn’t enough”, but said “more help is on the way” when Boris Johnson’s successor is at number 10.
Another group of experts predicted that millions more Brits could be pushed into absolute poverty without further action, while experts warned that cold houses would cost some children their lives.
Asked how concerned he was that some might freeze during the cost of living crisis this winter, Zahawi told Sky News: “I am deeply concerned.”
The chancellor said that “no one should be left out this winter because they cannot afford it [energy bill]”- but could not guarantee that some indebted families will have their gas and electricity turned off.
“I am working with companies and NGOs to make sure that the people who are really struggling get the help,” he said, adding that people who fear they cannot pay their bills “should contact their company.”
Zahawi said he and Treasury officials have come up with new energy bill support options for Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, saying “nothing off the table.”
The chancellor confirmed that the government is considering Scottish Power’s plan to create a fund for energy companies to allow them to freeze or heavily discount their bills for the next two years.
Asked if the £ 37 billion support package already established this year was enough, he said: “Of course it’s not … More aid, over £ 37 billion, is on the way.”
Truss, who remains the strong favorite to win the Tory leadership race, has yet to commit to further direct support payments to ease the pain of rising energy bills. The lead is thought to be considering extra payments for low-income families and retirees.
Perhaps in the strongest suggestion, he would offer some “handouts,” Ms. Truss said The sun it would provide “immediate support to ensure that people do not face unsustainable fuel bills”.
The contest favorite also said last night’s latest Tory thefts would “absolutely” offer support to companies affected by massive increases in energy bills, even though it was unclear whether she was considering subsidies or tax cuts for companies. .
Asked if he would support Truss’s emergency budget, Conservative MP Mark Harper, a Sunak supporter, told Sky News: “I think reality will get in the way. I don’t think the plans he has laid out are going to stay true because they simply don’t provide help to people. “
The latest report from the Resolution Foundation says households’ real disposable income is set to decline by 10% this year and next, warning that the number of people living in absolute poverty is set to rise by three million, to 14 million of people.
The think tank said it was “the biggest squeeze in a century” and warned that Brits faced a “standard of living catastrophe” without significant new support.
More than 6,000 people die each winter from energy poverty, but the figure is likely to be “much higher this year,” according to a new report by researchers from the UCL Institute of Health Equity.
Professor Ian Sinha of Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, co-author of the report, told the Guardian that he “had no doubts” that the energy crisis would cost some children their lives this winter.
Meanwhile, the head of Ovo Energy has laid out his company’s 10-point plan to tackle the energy crisis, saying the government should provide help with gradually decreasing bills for high-income workers who use more electricity.
Stephen Fitzpatrick told the BBC that helping low-income families with their energy bills “must be the first order of business” for the next prime minister.
“If we don’t use every available moment in the next 12 weeks to solve this problem, we will see a winter like never before with people going hungry and cold and the NHS will be overwhelmed by the health impact of the energy crisis,” He said.