A number of senior Tory MPs have urged the PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take immediate action to help alleviate the impact of soaring energy bills on low-income households.
Twenty Tory MPs and Peers have signed an open letter to the Sunday Telegraph expressing concerns about the impact of rising energy bills on struggling families, and calling for new measures to assist those affected.
The intervention will ratchet up the pressure on the PM and government ministers, who are currently engaged in negotiations with energy corporations and the energy regulator Ofgem over prospective consumer bill-lowering measures.
Urging Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak to use “all available levers” to mitigate the looming increase, the MPs and peers asked for the abolition of the 5% VAT on energy bills, describing it as a “small” change but a “step in the right direction.”
One of the signatories noted that both Mr Johnson and Michael Gove stated before the Brexit campaign that leaving the European Union would allow the UK to save money on energy prices by eliminating VAT.
Additionally, the letter advocated for the elimination of environmental levies, which are intended to finance renewable energy subsidy programmes and account for 23% of consumer power costs. The two methods taken together are estimated to save up to £200 on the typical home bill.
Similarly, the MPs argued that the climate change levy on commercial energy consumption is damaging to the UK economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the MPs reminded Mr Johnson that his net zero policy must not jeopardise the UK’s domestic energy supplies and encouraged him to take a “new approach to energy security.”
They added: “We hardly need to point out the risks of reliance on other countries for our energy needs, especially those hostile to us.
“This leads to the inescapable conclusion of the need to expand North Sea exploration and for shale gas extraction to be supported.”
The letter, which was organised by Craig Mackinlay MP, head of the Tory MPs’ Net Zero Scrutiny Group, is signed by former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, former schools minister Robert Halfon, and former Brexit minister Steve Baker.
The group is said to be sceptical about measures designed to tackle climate change.
It comes as fuel poverty campaigners warn that up to six million households could find themselves living in fuel poverty by April 2022.
According to statistics, more than four millions UK households were struggling to stay warm even before recent welfare and tax changes.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action said: “Every home should be a warm and safe place, but for over 4.5 million UK households the cold reality is very different and getting much worse.
“The cost of living in the UK is at its highest level in a decade with household energy bills the biggest driver. When the costs of essential services go up, those on lowest incomes get hit hardest.
“Bills have increased by well over £230 since last winter and millions now face a daily heat or eat dilemma.
“We estimate energy bills will rocket again in April, doubling the average householders’ heating bills since last year.
“Over the same period, those on the lowest incomes have seen their income plummet by over £1,000 per year. Just think about that.
“For people already on a budgetary knife-edge, the cost of keeping a family warm has exploded while budgets have collapsed. No amount of useful tips or savvy shopping can cope with that.”