WATCH: Starmer says people spoken to “very pleased” with energy bills plan

Katie Neame

Keir Starmer has said people he has spoken to are “very, very pleased” with Labour’s proposal to freeze energy bills until April as part of the opposition’s plan to support consumers with rising energy costs.

Labour announced this morning 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.

Speaking to Sky News this afternoon, the Labour leader said: “We’ve been talking to people this morning about how they’re going to cope through the winter, and they are very very pleased to hear an announcement that says we’re not going to let those prices go up.”

Pressed on forecasts that energy bills will rise significantly, Starmer told viewers: “Under our plan, they won’t go up. That’s the whole point. The fear is that, if the government doesn’t step up, the average will go up from £2,000 or so to £3,500 then up again to £4,200.”

Analysts at Cornwall Insight predicted last week that average bills could increase to £3,582 in October and rise again in January to more than £4,200. Starmer said today he was sure there were “many people” watching who would be saying “I can’t afford that kind of money”.

He continued: “So we’re saying we’ll hold that back. We won’t allow those prices to go up, and we’ll make sure that those that are actually making a lot of profit out of this pay for holding those prices down, and that is the sort of plan that I think people are very, very receptive to.”

Labour said its plan, which would cost £29bn, can 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.

Launching the plan this morning, Starmer told BBC Radio 4: “We’ve got to make a choice. We can either let oil and gas companies continue to make huge profits that they didn’t expect to make whilst families and millions of people struggle to pay their bills or we do something about it.”

He added: “The Labour Party is not going to stand by. We have made the choice that those oil and gas companies should pay a windfall tax on the excess profits that they didn’t expect to make so that we can freeze the cost for families.”

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Labour’s largest affiliated union Unite, said Labour’s plan is a “step forward from what’s been proposed until now” but added that a “piecemeal approach won’t work”.

She declared: “Britain’s real crisis isn’t rising prices ­– it’s an epidemic of unfettered profiteering. Energy firms, like Scottish Power, owned by Spain’s Ibedrola, or the French state-owned EDF, own huge swathes of our energy supply.

“It seems that public ownership is only to be heralded as long as it is not the British people doing the owning.”

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