As widely predicted three months ago, regulator Ofgem today confirmed a 80% rise in the increasingly discredited retail price ‘cap’, with average annual household energy bills announced to rise to £3,549 from 1 October.
The rise, widely foreseen by analysts such as Cornwall Insight who predicted the outcome of the public formula several weeks ago, will see dual fuel retailed to home at levels on average three times higher than twelve months ago.
Further rises of up to £5,400 yearly are predicted for January, when the regulator makes its next calculation. £6,000 are above are presaged for April.
The world’s industrial re-awakening post Covid last year triggered continuing rises in wholesale gas prices to levels reportedly twelve to fifteen times those of pre-lockdown.
Sacked, convicted and facilely boosterish premier Johnson twelve months ago described rocketing gas prices as a ‘temporary’ phenomenon.
In recent days prices of LNG for short-term UK delivery have returned to heights last seen in March. That was when Russian gas exports were barred from the civilised world’s markets as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s violation of Ukraine.
With Conservative ministers this morning absenting themselves en masse from media questioning, Ofgem director Jonathan Brierley led a chorus of cries at the microphone for the government to step in and provide targeted relief going beyond measures announced three months ago by former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
“Further action, including mitigating effects on consumers of these unprecedented rises, are beyond Ofgem’s remit as regulator. It is up to government to take things further”, Brierley told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
Speaking for Britain’s generating and supply companies, EnergyUK director Emma Pinchbeck, and Dame Clare Moriarty of Citizens Advice, the government’s statutory advisors combatting debt-driven poverty, made the same appeal on Radio Four.
‘Zombie’ government: Martin Lewis
A statement issued by D-BEIS this morning only re-iterated the specifics of Sunak’s three-month old package, published when the price cap on home consumption was signalled to rise to only £1,971. The statement added that ‘civil servants are “making the appropriate preparations in order to ensure that any additional support or commitments on cost of living can be delivered as quickly as possible when the new Prime Minister is in place”.
“No government could control global gas prices, as they are set on an international market,” D-BEIS contended.
“However, the price cap protects 24 million households from being overcharged by their supplier.
“Throughout 2022 the price cap has been the best value tariff available to consumers, meaning families continue to pay lower bills for their electricity and gas than they otherwise would without it”, said the D-BEIS statement.
Writing in the Daily Mail this morning, Liz Truss – pictured, front-runner for No 10, promises “immediate action” once elected as PM to offset the rises. But she says it would be wrong to offer specifics before she is made aware of civil servants’ preparations.
The former management accountant at Shell Oil pledges to re-start fracking, “making sure” local communities see its benefits.
Speaking on Radio 4, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves accused Conservatives of dereliction of ministerial duty in failing to offer new details. She pledged Labour once again to a windfall tax on excessive profits made by energy companies.
Senior Conservative back-bencher Robert Halfon told the Today programme that his constituents were increasingly reporting anguish and anxiety over the predicted series of price rises.
ITV’s ‘money-saving expert’ Martin Lewis described the situation as catastrophic. Speaking to James O’Brien on LBC, he echoed praise he gave in May for Sunak’s plan.
But Lewis described as ‘balderdash’ Truss’ failing to seek an early sight of civil servants’ scenarios in mitigation.
The chair of an action group on mental health and debt, Lewis described the mental anguish felt by consumers, in the absence of detailed measures signalled to offset the rocketing prices.
“Because we have a zombie government, Ofgem has been constrained in what it can do, and what Whitehall can do”, said Lewis.
“Only government, not the regulator, not civil servants, can give leadership. There has been none.”