Cost of living crisis: Energy companies are putting ministers to shame over their lack of action – Scotsman comment

“I believe Britain’s best days lie ahead,” says Liz Truss on her “Liz for Leader” website.

It’s the sort of thing that politicians who aspire to lead the country say, but such platitudes sound decidedly out of touch with the growing cost-of-living crisis.

As the UK Government remains on hold, pending the Conservative leadership election, the cries for help are growing louder.

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The British Chambers of Commerce yesterday warned “the government is running out of time to offer businesses and households the support they need”, revealing it had urged Boris Johnson and co to adopt its five-point plan to provide “vital support” to businesses.

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The cost-of-living crisis is becoming so great that it will not only affect the poorest people in this country, but large swathes of the population. If millions of people are forced to cut back on spending, the economy is going to take a serious hit, particularly as businesses, whose energy bills are not capped, are seeing costs soar.

No wonder then that the Bank of England is predicting a year-long recession.

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The BCC noted that consumer confidence was at a 50-year low and said that in January, before the recent staggering energy prices, 23 per cent of businesses it surveyed were “looking to scale down or even consider closure in response to rising costs”.

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Liz Truss does not seem to grasp the seriousness of the cost-of-living crisis (Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Johnny Marshall, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, stressed that major energy companies could go bust if their customers, some of whom face “proper destitution” this winter, were unable to pay their bills.

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Despite all this gloom, set to deepen with today’s expected announcement that the energy price cap will rise to more than £3,500 from October, it was an energy company, British Gas, that took the kind of step that might be expected of government ministers. Its pledge to donate ten per cent of its profits to help customers with their bills means it is essentially imposing a windfall tax on itself.

The fact that energy companies are taking such action is a sign of just how serious this crisis is. Instead of meaningless rhetoric, we need government intervention on the scale of the Covid pandemic to stop people forced to subsist on a poor diet in cold, damp houses from dying in large numbers this winter and to ensure the health of the economy.

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