The Government was right to support the people of Ukraine, but must now step up and support Britons through the cost-of-living crisis the conflict there has stoked, one of the country’s top energy bosses has said.
Scottish Power chief executive Keith Anderson said that people are feeling “genuine fear” as energy bills rise “off the charts and out of reach”.
He called on the Government to double the support packages that it put into place in May this year – which promised £400 for all households and up to £1,200 for the most vulnerable.
“People’s concern about how they’re going to make ends meet when the price cap goes up at the start of October is palpable, and turning to genuine fear,” Mr Anderson said.
He warned that the “tough conditions for UK households are going to get much, much worse before they get better – and are going to endure for longer than any of us could have expected”.
The call comes days after energy bosses – including Mr Anderson – met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other Cabinet members to discuss the crisis.
The meeting appeared unfruitful, with the Government saying it would not make any major decisions until the new prime minister is installed early next month.
This week three “peaceful, dignified” groups “spanning political divides” have protested at the Scottish Power offices over energy bills, Mr Anderson said: “All with one message. People urgently need help to get through this.”
Bills were this week forecast to rise to close to £5,300 for the average household per year in April. The rises will eat up support announced in May, when experts thought that bills would peak at £2,800.
Mr Anderson said that households will need the same again to get through what experts are currently forecasting.
“We should look to the lessons of the pandemic to offer support on the size and scale needed to see households through the worst of the pain this winter and over the course of the next two years,” he said.
Mr Anderson added: “Alongside other support measures, the Government could set up a deficit fund to cover the difference between what people pay and how much it costs to supply their homes with gas and electricity.
“The fund could be underwritten by the Government, or a willing financial institution, and repaid over a 10 to 15-year period to smooth out the costs.
“We can use the time to speed up investment in cheap green energy, to cut energy use and emissions by more ambitious energy efficiency programmes, and to make progress in delinking electricity prices from gas, to better reflect the use of cheaper green energy in our mix,” he added.
“Britain has rightly stood up for Ukraine, standing united with those in need and we must continue to do. But we must also support people here during these unprecedented times.”