MP for West Dunbartonshire, Martin Docherty-Hughes, has warned that struggling households could face bills of up to £5,000 next April, after the Tory UK government scrapped protections offered to families on the energy price cap.
Last month, the UK government said that the Energy Price Guarantee – which limits the amount households can be charged per unit of gas or electricity – would remain in place until September 2024. However, new Tory Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a scaling back of the energy price cap freeze, which will now last for only six months instead of the two years initially promised.
Speaking in the House of Commons this week, local SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes urged the UK government to provide certainty on what alternative support will be put in place for households and businesses who face further energy price rises from April.
Responding on behalf of the government, Jacob Rees-Mogg – who later resigned as Tory Business Secretary – said that the government had acted ‘with the speed of light’ in bringing forward its energy support package, quoting a poem by Arthur Henry Reginald Buller.
The SNP had previously brought forward an amendment to the Energy Prices Bill, requiring UK Ministers to set out alternative plans for targeted support within 28 days. However, both the Tories and Labour failed to support the amendment – with the Westminster parties accused of being ‘reckless’ for leaving families and businesses in the dark about further energy price rises ahead.
Commenting, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“Families and businesses across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale are deeply worried about the soaring price of their energy bills.
“The Tory UK government has the power to act, but the turmoil and u-turns at Westminster have left voters feeling scunnered. It cannot be right that people are being left in the dark about the scale of massive energy price rises still to come.
“What’s worse is that, given a chance to stand up for struggling households, the Labour Party once again sat on its hands and refused to offer up real opposition, leaving families in the firing line. There is little difference between the Conservative and Labour parties these days.
“By contrast, to help with the cost-of-living crisis the Scottish Government have used their limited powers to uprate eight benefits and bring in further increases to the Scottish Child Payment, but all of that work risks being undone or offset by the reckless calamity in Westminster. It’s clear real support can only come with independence.
“Scots should no longer be forced to bear the rising cost of Westminster failure and must be able to assume the full powers of independence so they can set out on a different, better path.”