Liz Truss expected to unveil energy bills freezing package today
Prime Minister Liz Truss will announce fresh cost of living support for the UK today, as she unveils her plan to tackle the soaring energy bills crippling households and businesses.
The new prime minister is expected to tell the public at 11.30am on Thursday that domestic energy bills will be frozen at around £2,500 annually for the typical household, during a debate on energy costs in the House of Commons.
Household energy bills are poised to grow by 80% to £3,549 in October when the new energy price cap comes into effect.
Business' energy bills are presently not capped, confronting owners with eyewatering price rises.
It's unknown exactly how long the support for energy consumers will last for, but analysts have estimated the total bill for the package could reach at least £100 billion.
The freeze could last for up to two years - until the next general election Ms Truss hinted in her first speech as PM will be held in 2024.
The package would be funded by increased government borrowing, according to The Times.
But Sir Keir Starmer yesterday questioned how Ms Truss plans to raise money for her package, arguing the government should instead extend a windfall tax on gas and oil company profits to pay for the support, rather than heaping debt on taxpayers' shoulders in years to come.
Speaking at the first PMQs session since Ms Truss took office, the Labour leader told MPs energy producers "will make £170bn in excess profits over the next two years".
He added: "Is she really telling us that she is going to leave these vast excess profits on the table and make working people foot the bill for decades to come?"
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Ms Truss could also declare she is lifting the moratorium on fracking, with potential for the change to be implemented at pace, according to reports on Thursday morning.
She is tipped to follow through on her leadership vow to end opposition to shale gas extraction in places where it is backed by local communities.
Meanwhile, the new PM is expected to confirm she is scrapping green levies on energy bills and declare her support for more North Sea drilling, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Ahead of her announcement, Ms Truss acknowledged families and businesses across the country are concerned about how they will “make ends meet” over the coming months.
She blamed rising global prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, and the “weaponisation” of gas supply in Europe.
“This has only made clearer that we must boost our long-term energy security and supply,” she said.
“We will take action immediately to help people and businesses with bills but also take decisive action to tackle the root cause of these problems, so that we are not in this position again.
“We will set out our plans to deliver on that promise and build a prosperous Britain for everyone.”
Soaring energy bills have piled pressure on the government to offer greater support to embattled Britons.
At present, all households will receive a one-off £400 payment in October to help tackle their monthly expenditure. Some eight million low income households, who receive benefits or tax credits, will also be paid £650 across two cost of living sums.
The first £326 payment was made to eligible Britons between September 2 and 7, while a second figure of £324 will be sent out in several months.
However, experts and charities have warned that with the price cap expected to rise once again in January - by 52% according to estimates by analysts at Cornwall Insight - that support from the government must aid the financial blues otherwise lives will be at risk this winter.
During Wednesday's session of PMQs, Ms Truss said she will open a debate on energy costs on Thursday.
But, unlike a formal ministerial statement, this will not result in sustained questioning from MPs about the move.
Labour said the “only fair” answer to the crisis is its own proposal to freeze bills, valued by the party at £29 billion.
Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband argued that “core” to any solution is the question of “who pays”.
“By ruling out a windfall tax, Liz Truss, in one of her first acts as prime minister, has written a blank cheque to the oil and gas giants making £170 billion in excess profits, and the British people will foot the bill,” he said.
“Every penny her government refuses to raise in windfall taxes is money that they will be loading onto the British people for years to come.”