Minister does not rule out more energy bill support in October

The Government has not ruled out stepping in with more support if energy bills rise again as expected in October.

Energy Minister Greg Hands said that the situation would be kept under “constant review”.

It came as a fuel poverty campaigner called the Chancellor’s support for households “wholly inadequate” and the Bank of England Governor warned that inflation will not stabilise for two years.

Separately it was also confirmed that water and sewage bills are set to rise by 1.7%, which will add around £7 on a household’s annual bill. It brings the average water bill to £419.

On Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a multibillion-pound package to help households through a more than 50% hike in energy bills.

However, most of the Chancellor’s support is a loan which will have to be paid back by households.

They will originally get £200 off their bills, but bills will then go up by £40 per year for five years to claw back the money.

Experts predict that October might bring another 17% spike in bills, unless global gas prices fall rapidly.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today whether more help could be announced before October, Mr Hands said: “It is too early to say what the price cap will be.

“We keep these things under constant review. Of course we won’t hesitate to act if we need to to defend consumers.

“But of course we have to recognise the UK is not in any way exempt or immune from high global energy prices.”

The comments came as National Energy Action chief executive Adam Scorer told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the help would not be enough.

He said: “It (the Government) should’ve gone hard and deep, and then to provide the support to people who are going to be hit hardest by these price rises. £350 is going to be hugely welcome by everybody and it’s got lots of merit.

“But if you take the rise in October and the rise that’s coming in April, it will still see those on the lowest incomes facing a £500 price rise over the year. So, unfortunately, it was wholly inadequate. And they’ll have to come back to this.”

Andrew Bailey
Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey (Dan Kitwood/PA)

“It (the Government) has to go deep and it has to understand that this is a crisis that will last for some years. It loves its one-off contributions, its ad hoc arrangements, but that’s just not fit for purpose.”

After the energy announcement, the Bank of England upped its base interest rate from 0.25% to 0.5%.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey told Radio 4 on Friday: “It is going to be a difficult period ahead, I readily admit, because we all get we are already seeing and we’re going to see a reduction in real income.

“Based on what we see today, I would expect that, so we’re going to start coming out of it in 2023, and two years from now we expect we’ll be back on to a more stable – certainly inflation – back to a more stable position.”

The Governor also encouraged companies not to give staff big pay rises to combat inflation, warning it could lead to a spiral of high prices followed by high wages, sending inflation higher.

He said: “I’m not saying don’t give yourself a pay rise. This is about the size of it (any rise)… we do need to see restraint.”

Staff at companies that follow Mr Bailey’s advice will see their real pay shrink rapidly.

Jersey Evening Post