LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Rishi Sunak has refused to disclose how many more people may be driven into fuel poverty as a result of increased energy prices, stating only that people shouldn’t be afraid.
In the run-up to Wednesday’s spring fiscal statement, the chancellor is under rising pressure over cost of living issues, with particular concerns that a hike in energy bills next month, followed by another in October, will be disastrous for household budgets.
When asked about energy costs, Sunak told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme that without a doubt, this was people’s first priority at the moment. He understands how difficult it is to work hard and see the price of everything rising every week.
And the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia haven’t come cheaply for the UK at home. He added that he’d like to be upfront with people and say that it won’t be easy.
Sunak, however, refused to say how many people could potentially fall into fuel poverty when asked several times, saying only that “actions already taken” – such as a £150 council tax rebate for homes in bands A to D, and a £200 bill discount in October that will be repaid with higher bills in future years – “will make a big difference.”
Martin Lewis, a consumer expert who appeared earlier on the same show, warned that 10 million people might face fuel poverty, claiming that the impact of rising energy prices will be even greater than the financial crisis of 2008 and Covid.
“Do I go to the salon or do I go to the pub and get a takeaway?” was how I used to prioritise my money. Now it’s about: I’m putting my children’s needs ahead of my own,” Lewis explained. “In our society, that is simply not tenable.” There is complete terror, and it hasn’t even begun.”
He stated, “It’s not something money management can repair.” “Political intervention is required.”
“I don’t know whether he gave any study to show that,” Sunak replied when asked about Lewis’ prediction of the number of people who would face fuel poverty. “The analysis we’ve done will indicate that the impact of policies we’ve put in place will disproportionately favour individuals on lower incomes,” he responded when asked if he had done such a study.
Sunak remarked that people should evaluate him by his deeds over the past two years, adding that he’s tried to do everything to make a difference.
When asked about another potential increase in energy bills in October, when the bill’s price cap is evaluated, Sunak stated, it wasn’t known, and he didn’t want people to be worried. There was now a price ceiling in place that would protect them until the autumn. They’ve taken action immediately to assist them with the upcoming hike in April. The situation in Ukraine is clearly volatile.