Backlash after Chancellor tells people to cut back as energy prices rocket

26 August 2022, 16:36

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi suggests people should ration energy
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi suggests people should ration energy. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The Chancellor has come under fire after suggesting Brits should ration their energy consumption this winter after Ofgem hiked the energy price cap to £3,549.

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Millions of households across the UK are facing crippling energy costs this winter after the cap on energy bills soared by 80% and experts warned of death, starvation and hypothermia for the lowest earners.

Reacting to the news on Friday, Nadhim Zahawi who is said to have an estimated net worth of up to £100million, suggested that people should give greater heed to how they use energy in a bid to keep costs down.

He said "we should all look at our energy consumption" but that the government knows it has to "do more".

He also was accused of 'gaslighting' the public after blaming the war in Ukraine for families' increased bills while energy firms enjoy vast profits.

Speaking to broadcasters the Chancellor said: "The reality is that we should all look at our energy consumption. It is a difficult time. There is war on our continent.

"Very few people anticipated war. Wars happen in far-flung places. It is now here with us. We have to remain resilient. My responsibility is to deliver that help."

In 2013, the Tory minister apologised after claiming £5,822.27 in expenses for the electricity supply to his stables in his second home.

Read more: Energy price cap explained: How will the increase impact you and how much prices are rising?

Expert warns price cap announcement will result in people losing their lives this winter

His comments on energy rationing come after No10 said on Monday that people should not panic or cut back on their energy use.

A spokeswoman for the PM said: "These decisions, in terms of energy consumption, remain decisions for individuals.

"Households, businesses and industry can be confident that they will have the electricity and gas that they need."

Mr Zahawi, who is likely to be out of a job in the coming days if Liz Truss becomes prime minister, also stressed on Friday that the Government is not paralysed by the Tory leadership contest and focused on preparing options for whichever candidate emerges as the winner.

The Chancellor told broadcasters help from the Government is coming, but admitted: "We know that's not enough. We've got to do more.

"We need to make sure that this isn't a sticking plaster, that for the long term we continue to help the most vulnerable who have no cushion, and that's what I'm determined to do.

"And we're working up those options for both households and for business for the incoming prime minister on September 5 to take those decisions.

"So my message today is, 'We'll get this £37 billion to people to help them for now, and then more will be coming because we know this will continue in January and, of course, on to April and next year and we have to remain resilient'."

Read more: 'Lives will be lost': Dire warnings as Ofgem boss warns energy price rises will get 'much, much' worse

Boris Johnson predicted a "tough" few months ahead - but promised energy prices will eventually come down amid grim predictions about the impact the 80.06% rise in the energy price cap will have on millions of the poorest households across the UK.

Mr Johnson, entering his final few days in office, also said the Government has a "big, big package of help and support". He said the "extra cash" will come in September.

"There's a pipeline of cash coming through over the next few months and through the autumn and the winter. But that is clearly now going to be augmented, increased, by extra cash that the Government is plainly going to be announcing in September," he told broadcasters during a trip to the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre in Surrey.

"This will go on for a few months and it will go on over the winter," he said, speaking after returning from a visit to Ukraine.

"And it will be tough - and I'd be very clear about that - but in the end, we are also putting in the measures we need to ensure that we have the energy independence to get through this."

Read more: 'A catastrophe - I'm begging you to help': Martin Lewis pleads for next PM to act after price cap hikes to £3,500

Martin Lewis says how he'd stop rising energy bills.

Mr Johnson has been accused of presiding over a "zombie Government" in recent weeks, with the promise of fresh Government help on energy bills delayed until a new prime minister takes office at the start of September.

He said the UK needs to get through the global spike in energy caused by the war in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir "Putin's ability to blackmail".

Opposition politicians, industry regulator Ofgem and campaigners were all united on Friday in calling on the Government to intervene urgently, as charities warned that households across the country could be plunged into poverty by the soaring energy bills.

Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of being "missing in action" and said it is "unforgivable" that no further intervention has been taken by Government.