Alastair Stewart slams energy companies over cost of living
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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are facing pressure to rapidly curtail the contest to replace Boris Johnson in a bid to focus on the cost of living crisis. It comes as repeated polls show the Foreign Secretary is the clear favourite among Conservative members to take on the top job.
On Friday the energy regulator Ofgem is set to announce the price cap for October and beyond, with forecasts warning Britons to brace for annual bills as high as £3,600.
Speaking this morning to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Utility managing director Bill Bullen said: “We’ve been seeing customers suffer, even at the prices we were at last week.”
Pleading ministers for action, he continued: “That’s why we’re saying to Government you’ve got to take this decision to freeze prices at their current level right now.
“This cannot wait until September 5 or 6.
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“Frankly, the Conservative Party needs to sort themselves out, decide who the leader is going to be this week, so the Ofgem announcement on the 26 doesn’t have to happen.
“Frankly that is such an imperative, frankly for the sake of the nation I think the Conservative Party need to sort their leadership contest out quicker than they’re currently planning to do it.”
Meanwhile, Greg Jackson, founder and chief executive of Octopus Energy, compared the surge in energy prices to a rise in the cost of a pint of beer.
“If this was beer, we’re talking about the wholesale price being £25 a pint,” he said.
“People don’t know what a therm is, but, underneath it, the price per therm has gone from 60p to around £5 at the moment and that’s what’s passing through to customers if we don’t do something.”
He added: “There are systemic issues. There are loads of questions of how we pay for this.
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“One thing we can’t do is be expected to pass those costs on to consumers.”
The Tory leadership contest is not currently due to end until September 5, with a new Prime Minister in place the next day.
Mr Sunak has refused to stand aside to let Ms Truss get on with the job early, saying he is still “fighting” to win every vote and that he does not believe the outcome of the internal contest is a foregone conclusion.
A YouGov poll last week gave the Foreign Secretary a 38-point lead over her rival.
It suggested 66 percent of members are set to back Ms Truss compared to 34 percent for the former Chancellor.
Labour has already set out how it would tackle energy bills if it was in Government.
Speaking at a building site in Walthamstow today, Sir Keir Starmer warned that “unless action is taken, energy bills are going to go through the roof this winter”.
The Labour lead claimed his plans would save households over £1,000 on bills.
He said: “We the Labour Party have said we should have said we should freeze energy prices, not let those bills go up, and pay for that in part with windfall tax on oil and gas companies, who are making huge, huge profits.
“Alongside that, we need a national mission to insulate homes, that’s a longer-term issue.
“We called for that a year ago now, if the Government had done that, we’d have the best part of two million homes insulated.”
Sir Keir added: “Instead of that, we have got a zombie Government and that is the root of the problem.”
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