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Energy Price Cap: Living Standards

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2022

2. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact of increases in the energy price cap on living standards. (901016)

We talk in Cabinet about the cost of living and the price cap all the time. The hon. Member will know that decisions on the level of the price cap are for Ofgem, but it is something we are constantly talking about in Cabinet.

MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis has asked a great question over social media:

“The energy price cap’s predicted to rise 64% in Oct taking a typical bill to £3,244/yr; & rise again in Jan to £500/yr more than when May’s help package was announced. What’ll u do to avoid this & when?”

How would the Secretary of State answer that question?

The hon. Member will know that the various parts are moving in the Government, but I am sure there will be the customary statement or Budget in November from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am sure there will be some interesting measures there to deal with that particular question.

Will my right hon. Friend explain how people who live in park homes are going to be able to benefit from the £400 donation from the energy price cap?

I am very pleased to tell my hon. Friend that we recognise the difficulty there. There was a loophole, but we are in the process of consultation about how to deal with that particular issue.

I am afraid the Secretary of State just does not get it. As we now know, by the end of the year fuel bills are going to increase by an amount greater than the financial support that has been put in place by his Government. One third of someone’s state pension is going to be required just to pay their electricity and gas bills, so I have a simple question, which I will repeat again: what are they going to do about it?

We have already announced, in the course of the past few months, £37 billion-worth of cost of living support measures this year. I have also mentioned that there will be a Budget in November, when I am sure there will be an update on this very issue.

So nothing new, but let us face the reality as outlined by the abrdn Financial Fairness Trust just in the last couple of days: one in six households in the UK are now in “serious financial difficulties”—a number higher than throughout the entire pandemic—while inflation is sky-high, energy bills are sky-high, fuel bills are sky-high, clothing bills are sky-high, food bills are sky-high, wages are stagnating and we have the lowest growth in the entire G20, bar Russia. Britain is broken, isn’t it?

I am not going to take any lectures from the hon. Gentleman about economic management when his core policy is to separate from the UK, which will have a devastating economic impact on people in Scotland. I am not going to take any lessons from him, thank you very much.