Energy Price Guarantee: Fuel Poverty

Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons at on 28 February 2023.

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Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

What assessment he has made of the potential impact of the rise in the energy price guarantee in April 2023 on levels of fuel poverty.

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The energy price guarantee has been supporting households and will continue to do so from April ’23 by limiting the amount that suppliers can charge per unit of energy used.

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

The latest figures from 2020 show that, in parts of Lupset and Thornes in my constituency, more than two in five households were in fuel poverty. People are being left unable to heat their homes, have a shower or cook a hot meal. Since 2020, fuel poverty has continued to rise and the crisis has only got worse. Can the Minister explain to my constituents what is fair about those in fuel poverty facing even higher bills, when wholesale gas costs are falling and energy companies’ profits are continuing to rise?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The Government announced in the autumn statement that the energy price guarantee will continue from April ’23. An analysis for 2022, which was published today, shows that 350,000 households in England were kept out of fuel poverty as a result of the support offered to households with energy bills.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero

I welcome the Minister to her new role. Her Department’s responsibility is to tackle fuel poverty, so the planned rise in the price cap is the first big test. If it goes ahead, the number of people in fuel poverty will jump by almost 2 million, which is why many people, including those from leading energy charities, are telling her Department to stop the cap rising. Will she and the Secretary of State now do their jobs and tell the Chancellor to cancel the rise?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

To reiterate, the Government have been looking at this issue incredibly closely. The analysis so far for 2022 shows that 350,000 households in England were kept out of fuel poverty.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero

I am afraid that is no answer to the question. We have millions of families across the country, and we have bills going out this week. People do not want sympathy or warm words: they want certainty from the Government.

This is a political choice, because the Government are saying that they cannot afford to do any more to help families, but at the same time, they refuse a proper windfall tax and bung billions of pounds in handouts to the oil and gas companies. Is not the truth that the reason people are sick and tired of this Government is that they put the balance sheet of fossil fuel companies ahead of the family budgets of the British people?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that we have been paying half of household energy bills, and that we will continue to look at this.