Recall parliament to freeze bills, Labour urges Tory leadership candidates and PM

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament

Labour has demanded that parliament be recalled early from summer recess in order to freeze energy bills before the announcement of the new energy price cap, which analysts have predicted could rise to more than £3,500.

In separate letters sent today to Boris Johnson and Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, Thangam Debbonaire has called for parliament to be brought back on August 22nd to pass legislation to freeze the price cap at its current level. The new price cap is due to be announced on August 26th.

Labour said the announcement of the updated cap was a “crucial deadline” for the government to adopt the opposition’s plan to freeze energy bills until April 2023 – a move Labour said would save the typical household £1,000.

The party set out its plan to support households with rising energy costs on Monday. It said its proposals would cost £29bn and could be paid for in part by making changes to the windfall tax the government has imposed on oil and gas companies.

In the letters, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons wrote: “Across Britain, people are having to make unthinkable choices about how to pay their bills, causing endless worry for households and businesses.

“That is why I am writing to you today to urge you to bring parliament back early on Monday 22 August so that we can freeze the energy price cap now ahead of winter.

“In seven days, Ofgem will announce the rise of the energy price cap. Against the backdrop of a rise in inflation to 10.1%, this won’t just send households into a further spiral of worry, pushing them to cut back even further ahead of the winter. But it will create another shock for our economy.

“With businesses and households on the brink, we cannot wait to act. Families deserve a government that is on their side, and is ready to take the action needed now to meet the scale of this national emergency. The government must adopt Labour’s plan and take action to freeze the price cap now.”

Labour declared that its plan would “get inflation down”, which the ONS announced on Wednesday had risen above 10% for the first time in 40 years. The opposition said there is “no more time to waste” to address the cost-of-living crisis and secure the economy ahead of the winter.

A study by the University of York, published on Thursday, estimated that two-thirds of UK households are currently set to fall into fuel poverty by January next year – equivalent to 45 million people.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Debbonaire said: “It has been a severe failure of your government and governance that we have been so deeply exposed to rising inflation and an energy crisis.”

The Labour frontbencher told Sunak and Truss: “With you both campaigning to be the country’s next Prime Minister, it is crucial that you take responsibility now, and work with the sitting Prime Minister to start tackling this crisis now.”

Sunak rejected Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills in an interview with ITV’s This Morning on Thursday. The former Chancellor said the proposal was a “very blunt instrument” that provides “a lot of support for people who don’t need it”.

Truss has also dismissed Labour’s plan, saying on Tuesday: “What I worry about is putting a sticking plaster on this to say we will find the money but be in the same situation in six months’ time.” The Foreign Secretary added: “What’s not right is throwing money at the problem without dealing with the root cause.”

A poll, conducted by Opinium on behalf of campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, found that the vast majority of the public are in favour of freezing energy bills until April 2023, with 85% of Conservative voters backing the proposal.

Below is the full text of the letter sent to Boris Johnson.

Dear Prime Minister,

Across Britain, people are having to make unthinkable choices about how to pay their bills, causing endless worry for households and businesses.

That is why I am writing to you today to urge you to bring parliament back early on Monday 22 August so that we can freeze the energy price cap now ahead of winter.

It has been a severe failure of your government and governance that we have been so deeply exposed to rising inflation and an energy crisis.

The cost-of-living crisis has grown vastly in scale, which is why Labour has proposed the government should freeze the energy price cap this winter, to stop household energy bills going up and help bring inflation down.

It’s a fully-costed plan that will save the average household £1,000 and will help right now.

It’s also why we urge you to adopt at speed a long-term plan for our energy security – starting with a national mission to insulate 19 million homes so that households can save money in the future too.

We face an urgent choice.

In seven days, Ofgem will announce the rise of the energy price cap.

Against the backdrop of a rise in inflation to 10.1%, this won’t just send households into a further spiral of worry, pushing them to cut back even further ahead of the winter. But it will create another shock for our economy.

With businesses and households on the brink, we cannot wait to act.

That is why I am urging you to back a recall of parliament for Monday 22 August so that we can urgently begin the process of legislating for an energy price cap now.

Families deserve a government that is on their side and is ready to take the action needed now to meet the scale of this national emergency. I urge you to adopt Labour’s plan and take action to freeze the price cap now.

There is no more time to waste.

Regards,

Thangam Debbonaire

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Below is the full text of the letter sent to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Dear Ms Truss and Mr Sunak,

Across Britain, people are having to make unthinkable choices about how to pay their bills, causing endless worry for households and businesses.

That is why I am writing to you both today to urge you to bring parliament back early on Monday 22 August so that we can freeze the energy price cap now ahead of winter.

It has been a severe failure of the government – in which you both played a central role – that we have been so deeply exposed to rising inflation and an energy crisis.

The cost-of-living crisis has grown vastly in scale, which is why Labour has proposed the government should freeze the energy price cap this winter, to stop household energy bills going up and help bring inflation down. It’s a fully-costed plan that will help right now.

It’s also why we urge you to adopt at speed a long-term plan for our energy security – starting with a national mission to insulate 19 million homes so that households can save money in the future too.

With you both campaigning to be the country’s next Prime Minister, it is crucial that you take responsibility now, and work with the sitting Prime Minister to start tackling this crisis now.

We now face an urgent choice.

In seven days, Ofgem will announce the rise of the energy price cap.

Against the backdrop of a rise in inflation to 10.1%, this won’t just send households into a further spiral of worry, pushing them to cut back even further ahead of the winter. It will also create another shock for our economy. With businesses and households on the brink, we cannot wait to act.

That is why I am writing to you both today to urge you to back a recall of parliament for Monday so that we can urgently begin the process of legislating for an energy price cap now.

And I am also urging you to speak directly with the sitting Prime Minister to take action on this and to do all you can to support a recall and the legislative process of freezing the energy price cap for this winter so we can get a grip on this exponential crisis.

Families deserve a government that is on their side and is ready to take the action needed now to meet the scale of this national emergency. I urge you to adopt Labour’s plan and take action to freeze the price cap now.

There is no more time to waste.

Regards,

Thangam Debbonaire

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

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