Tory MPs have joined demands for Rishi Sunak to act on the risk of soaring energy bills in the new year, pressuring him to end the uncertainty.
Several assistant ministers are among the Tories who have signed on to a campaign launched by more than 60 charities to boost support for the 7 million households already living in fuel poverty.
They want an ‘urgent clarification’ of the help that will be available next year to pay sky-high bills, after Liz Truss’ promise of a two-year freeze was torn up as unaffordable.
And some are going further, demanding immediate help for the poorest people facing a dire choice between ‘heat or eat’ this winter, including an additional £325 emergency payment on December 1.
In an article for The IndependentPeter Aldous, the Tory MP for Waveney, Suffolk, has warned that existing aid is falling far short of what is needed.
“Without further action, 7 million households will face incredibly difficult decisions between a warm home and putting food on the table this winter,” he wrote.
“The situation is even worse for many disadvantaged communities, including some of those I represent.
“This government has only just been formed, but faces a generational challenge and must act imminently to protect millions of people from poverty this winter and beyond.”
Energy bills were due to be frozen until 2024 but will now be kept at an average of £2,500 until just April next year after the mini-budget disaster took the economy down.
After that, aid will be targeted to those most in need, leaving many households facing a hike of more than £4,000 despite the recent drop in wholesale gas prices around the world.
The Treasury has provided additional targeted support this autumn, worth £1,200 for the poorest households – through emergency payments and council tax cuts – and a £400 bill discount for all.
But the Warm This Winter campaign says much more is needed, calling for a one-time payment of £325 for households on income-related benefits and a temporary ban on transfers to more expensive prepaid meters.
Around 30 MPs, including the seven Tories – also including Alex Chalk (Cheltenham), Paul Howell (Sedgefield) and Damian Moore (Southport) – are all calling for a more limited package.
It would bring clarity on bills after April, inflation-adjusted benefits next April, a massive home insulation program and a faster switch to cheaper renewables.
Polls for the campaign have found that more than 8 in 10 Conservative voters fear soaring energy bills next April, while 41% fear they will struggle to pay their bills this winter.
Mr Aldous urged the government to provide ‘clarification on support beyond April as soon as possible, with energy bills expected to reach almost four times the level before the gas crisis if no further action is taken. socket”.