Miliband criticises Tory “infighting” as Sunak rules out energy price cap freeze

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ed Miliband has accused the Conservative leadership candidates of “infighting” and being “more focused on playing politics” than tackling dramatic increases in energy bills as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss dismissed plans to freeze the price cap.

Commenting after Sunak told a Tory leadership hustings that freezing the energy price cap is not “the right approach” and Truss warned against “throwing money” at a short-term fix, Miliband highlighted the strong support for the move.

“This is a measure backed by a huge majority of the British public, but is simply being ignored by Tory leadership candidates who are far more focused on playing politics,” the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary argued.

“Families are worried about how they will pay their bills, and instead of fixing the real issues the Conservatives continue their infighting, offering no substantive ideas to help the British public meet the challenges they face.”

Labour set its plan to support households with the rising cost of energy on Monday. The opposition announced that it would freeze gas and electricity prices immediately, keeping the energy price cap at its current level of £1,971 until April – a move it said would save the typical household £1,000.

Labour’s fully-funded plan would fix the problems immediately and for the future. It would mean people not paying a penny more on their energy bills this winter, saving the typical household £1,000, as well as providing the foundations for a stronger, more secure economy,” Miliband said this morning.

The party also confirmed plans it outlined last week to scrap energy premiums that customers using prepayments meters face, bringing the price cap for prepayment and standard credit customers in line with those paying by direct debit.

Labour said its package, which would cost £29bn, could be funded by backdating the windfall tax to include excess profits made since January, closing the loophole in the levy allowing tax relief on fossil fuel investment, halting the proposed £400 payments for all households and lowering government interest payments on debt.

Sunak unveiled his own plan to cut energy bills for 16 million vulnerable people last week. The former Chancellor declared that he was prepared to find up to £10bn to reduce the impact of October’s price cap rise, on top of the support announced by the government in May, and announced plans to axe VAT on energy bills.

His rival, and favourite to be Prime Minister, Liz Truss has suggested she would only provide support to households through tax cuts, including pledging to cancel the National Insurance increase and temporarily suspend green levies on energy bills.

Boris Johnson, Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng met with energy company bosses earlier this month to discuss what the companies plan to do with their unprecedented profits but failed to agree any new support measures.

The Treasury revealed that the Chancellor and the energy firms had agreed to “work closely” over the coming weeks to “ensure that the public, including vulnerable customers, are supported”. But the Prime Minister has said it will fall to his successor to make “significant fiscal decisions”.

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