Boris Johnson was last night accused of standing by and doing nothing as millions of families faced crippling energy bills of up to £5,038 a year.
And the outgoing PM passed the buck on to his successor after a crunch meeting with fatcat power firm bosses yesterday failed to agree a plan to help those hit by the worsening cost of living crisis.
Energy consultancy Auxilione said that based on Wednesday’s prices, Ofgem could set the cap at £5,038 a year for the average household in the three months from April. It also predicted bills would hit £4,467 in January.
But Ofgem and Energy UK also warned it was “possible” suppliers could raise costs before the cap kicks in on October 1.
But the PM produced no concrete policy to tackle the crisis and instead gave a vague promise of “urging the electricity sector to continue working on ways we can ease the cost of living pressures”.
But the lame duck PM will leave it to either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, who were last night at another leadership hustings, in Cheltenham, Glos, to sort out when one becomes Tory leader in September. No10 said: “The Prime Minister set out that it will be for the next Prime Minister to make fiscal decisions.”
Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband warned: “Britain faces a national emergency with rising energy bills and a cost of living crisis, families are worried about how they will pay their bills. But the Tories are missing in action.”
The SNP ’s Alison Thewliss added: “It’s disgraceful that Boris Johnson has failed to announce any new measures at all after today’s meeting, demonstrating a total abdication of leadership while millions of families suffer the spiralling Tory cost of living crisis.
“Families need help right now, they can’t afford to wait while this zombie government is stuck in a state of paralysis.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “It is appalling the Tories still haven’t announced extra support for families facing the hardest winter in decades.”
At the hustings Ms Truss admitted: “We have an energy crisis.”
But she offered no solutions other than to say “we need to do things differently”.
And the Foreign Secretary, who blundered by saying she was in Derbyshire, again refused to slap a windfall tax on energy giants.
The TUC warned energy bills will eat up more than two months of the average worker’s take-home pay next year. And Citizens Advice revealed it is braced for a surge in families unable to top up prepayment meters, which are typically 2% more expensive than direct debit bills.
The charity helped a record 2,232 of those customers in June, up from 1,540 in January. But it fears that will rise to around 21,600. Chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Our data paints a picture of the stark choices facing families everywhere.”
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labour would stop those on prepay meters being charged more. Ofgem is to announce the price cap on August 26. More than 100,000 activists have vowed to not pay energy bills in a protest over costs.
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Mel Vivers, 38
Mel Vivers says her family have been struggling with rising bills, even though husband Rob has a well-paid management job.
Their monthly gas and electricity direct debit went up from £120 to £220 in April.
And the prospect of energy costs soaring even higher later in the year has her worried.
“The position we could find ourselves in is quite frightening,” says Mel.
“There may be times when we have to think about what food we are buying and cut back.
“I fear for those on lesser incomes because if I’ve noticed the difference, I’m sure they have.”
The 38-year-old lives in Penygraig in the Rhondda Valley, Wales, with general manager Rob, 37, and their son Caden, 12.
She is self-employed as a consultant for Slimming World, and says her income from running three groups is variable.
“In the past I’ve made £250 per group, but I’ve had sessions where I’ve only taken £20,” she explains.
“My fears are that we’ll literally be working just to cover bills.”
She thinks the Government needs to do more to help.
“ Boris Johnson said they can’t do anything until there is a new Prime Minister but that’s going to be next month,” says Mel.
“We have a right to know what their plans are.”