Glasgow councillor calls for freeze energy prices, after new cap announced
Glasgow Labour’s deputy leader Soryia Siddique has urged Ofgem bosses to push the UK Government to freeze energy prices as the “horrifying” price cap rise will mean “vulnerable” people struggle to heat their homes.
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Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley has announced an 80.06% rise in the energy price cap on default tariffs, lifting the average household’s yearly bill from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.
Ahead of the announcement, Cllr Siddique wrote to Mr Brearley to highlight the “potentially serious consequences” of price rises on the health of her constituents.
Cllr Siddique’s Labour colleague, Cllr Matt Kerr, a ‘Power to the People’ campaigner, said: “This increase could be stopped tomorrow – it’s within the government’s gift – they have 35 days to get off their backsides and do their jobs.”
Responding to the price cap news on social media, Glasgow’s council leader Susan Aitken, SNP, said fuel poverty levels in the city are estimated to hit over 60% in coming months.
“It makes the term pretty much meaningless,” she added. “The inability to afford to heat and power your home is becoming endemic. If the UK Government doesn’t act now, the consequences will be grim.”
Cllr Siddique said she wrote to Mr Brearley as her constituents, in the Southside Central ward, are “experiencing difficulty in paying their domestic energy bills”. Last week, analysis by the University of York found 72 percent of Scottish households are expected to be living in fuel poverty by January 2023.
“Given the impending raising of the price cap will make the current situation considerably worse for many vulnerable consumers of energy,” the letter continued. “I am very concerned that many of my constituents will struggle to keep their homes warm this winter, with potentially serious consequences for their health and well-being.
“I think we are now at a critical juncture as the risk increases of inflation spiralling out of control, largely driven by the unprecedented increase in energy prices. In exceptional times we need exceptional action.”
The councillor said a price freeze “needs to be considered” and urged Ofgem, the energy regulator, to ask the UK Government to “take action to freeze energy prices now”. She also called for prepayment meters to be reviewed.
After the announcement, which Cllr Siddique described as “horrifying”, she added: “Ofgem must utilise their regulatory powers and seek emergency legislation if required, to ensure the protection of consumers.
“I would urge Ofgem to suspend the ability of energy suppliers to insist on the installation of prepayment meters.”
After revealing the price cap increase, Mr Brearley said the new Prime Minister will “need to act further to tackle the impact of the price rises that are coming in October and next year”.
“The response will need to match the scale of the crisis we have before us. With the right support in place and with regulator, government, industry and consumers working together, we can find a way through this.”
He said the price of energy had “reached record levels driven by an aggressive economic act by the Russian state”. “They have slowly and deliberately turned off the gas supplies to Europe causing harm to our households, businesses and wider economy,” he added. “Ofgem has no choice but to reflect these cost increases in the price cap.”