So estimates that the energy price cap – which was £1,277 in March – is set to rise to £3,582 in October and £4,266 in January will cause widespread despair. Hundreds of thousands of people will be worrying how they are possibly going to afford to pay their bills this winter.
Given the gravity of the situation, our elected representatives must provide adequate assistance to those in most need.
While the UK Government did agree a package of measures earlier this year, that was in response to the energy cap rise to £1,971 in April and it is now simply not enough.
With the government currently in limbo as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss compete to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, it appears no new measures will be announced until next month at the earliest. And Truss has said her priority will be tax cuts, rather than helping households to pay their bills.
So whatever help comes, there are real concerns it will be too little, too late.
Labour’s party political point-scoring about Johnson being in office but not in government might impress some but hardly offers an alternative solution.
Instead it was left to the Liberal Democrats to come up with what sounds like an expensive but effective plan.
They called for the energy price cap to remain at its current rate with energy suppliers recompensed by government for rising wholesale prices to the tune of £36 billion, partly funded by an extended windfall tax on fossil fuel companies. As Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey rightly said, “this is an emergency, and the government must step in now”.
However, such furlough-style largesse can only be a temporary fix. The long-term solution is more complicated, given it involves addressing engrained problems of low wages and high housing costs that have left many people particularly vulnerable to sudden price shocks.
Fortunately we already know one part of that answer: UK-produced renewable energy. Central to the fight against climate change, it can also provide a secure and relatively cheap supply of energy that is much less susceptible to global crises. And, in an increasingly uncertain world, that could prove vital.