Jack Monroe hits out at 'tone deaf' Govt and slams energy companies for 'playing us for fools'

14 August 2022, 11:28

'I hear almost hourly from people who are absolutely petrified.'

By Sophie Barnett

Food campaigner Jack Monroe has hit out at the Tory government's "tone-deaf" and "privileged" response to the cost of living crisis, as she accused energy companies of "playing us for fools".

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Ms Monroe took a swipe at leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, as well as prime minister Boris Johnson, during an interview with LBC's Ben Kentish.

She said their "let's wait and see" policy to cost of living measures is the "most tone-deaf, privileged thing they could possibly say".

It comes after crisis talks with energy firms held at Downing Street on Thursday ended with no details of any plans to help struggling people, following warnings annual bills could hit £5,000 next year.

Ms Monroe said there's a "complete lack of urgency" from those in "luxury positions".

She told Ben: "For someone like Rishi Sunak, who has more money than the Queen, of course he can say 'oh let's just wait and see how things pan out' because things are going to pan out just fine for him.

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"But he's not in position, and not a single MP is in position to represent their own luxury, privileged beliefs, they're there to represent their constituents and every single one of them - not just the ones who voted for them."

She said households are "absolutely petrified" and many are worried they "won't survive" the cost of living crisis, with households warned energy bills are expected to rise to £4,200 this winter.

In a new dire outlook for households, Cornwall Insight said bills are expected to soar to around £3,582 in October, from £1,971 today, before rising even further in the new year.

Previously, bills were estimated to rise to £3,358 from October and £3,616 from January.

In May, the Government announced an energy costs support package – worth £400 per household – in response to predictions that bills would rise to £2,800 for the average household in October.

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But experts at Cornwall Insight have forecasted that bills are now likely to rise to £4,200 from January as wholesale prices surge again.

Ms Monroe accused energy companies of "taking us for fools" with staggering prices.

She urged the Government to "crack down hard" on energy companies who say energy prices have quadrupled, "coincidentally while their profits have also quadrupled".

She said: "I understand they are a business, and businesses want to make profit, but that shouldn't be their core and driving motive. They are not just a product, but also a service, and they're a vital service.

"They are a service that people, millions of people in this country, now cannot afford at the prices they are asking.

"How can you justify millions and billions of pounds in bonuses and profit margins, when those millions and billions of pounds are literally paid for out of the pockets of people who are struggling to put food on the table, struggling to have any quality of life. It's unconscionable."

Ofgem last week announced changes to how it will calculate the price cap on energy bills going forward - with squeezed Brits now facing price hikes four times a year - up from just two.

Ofgem said it will now be updated quarterly instead of every six months.

It claimed the change will help with stability in the energy market and reduce the risk of more suppliers going bust, which would lead to higher costs for customers.

Labour will on Monday call for the energy price cap to be frozen at its current level of £1,971.

The move to block an expected increase to £3,300 in October is expected to put further pressure on the two Tory leadership contenders.