The Green Party has outlined its plan to cut soaring household energy bills by £2,000 and avert a potential ‘catastrophe’ this winter.
The want to see the big five energy suppliers to be taken into public ownership and prices to be capped at where they were in October last year.
Co-leader Carla Denya said, “We are seeing nationwide anxiety about the prospect of unpayable energy bills this winter”, other parties have offered to fix prices at current levels, which are already unaffordable.
Returning prices to an affordable level requires Government action, Carla Denya said the “experiment with an energy supply market has failed. Only the government can intervene at the scale required to avoid a catastrophe this winter.”
Concerns over the cost of living crisis have been heightened by data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that inflation hit a 40 year high last month, shooting up from 9.4% in June to 10.1% in July.
Increased prices for staple foods such as bread, milk and eggs have driven the rise, this has coincided with a corresponding 4.1% slump in the buying power of worker’s wages.
ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner told Sky News that the rise in inflation had been driven by a range of factors, including higher food prices, more expensive raw materials, and the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Candidates in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party and to be the next prime minister Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have both ruled out freezing energy prices.
Speaking at a husting in Perth Liz Truss said the best way to tackle rising energy prices would be to lift the green levy on bills and scrap the rise in National Insurance payments.
Rishi Sunak told the same meeting that the best approach would be to target support towards pensioners, low-income households, and other vulnerable groups.
Labour have set out a plan to deal with rising energy prices estimated at £29bn paid for in part by a ‘windfall tax’ on big energy companies. This would see the price cap frozen at its current level and money spent on insulating homes.
The Greens believe that proposals put forward by Labour and the Conservatives do not go far enough and that taking energy suppliers into public ownership it the only viable option.
Carla Denya said, “By bringing the big five energy retail companies into public ownership, setting the price of energy at an affordable rate and absorbing the global price rises, the government could make sure everybody can afford to get through this cost-of-living crisis”.
The Trades Union Council (TUC) estimate the cost of taking the big five suppliers into public ownership to be £2.8bn, less than the Government spent on dealing with the fallout from several smaller suppliers going under last Autumn.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “families should be able to afford their basic energy needs” but couldn’t because energy companies had “rinsed” them during “the good times then doubled our bills when the going got tough”.
Adding it was time to “lift the burden of failed privatisation off families. No more shareholder pay-outs. No more fat cat bonuses. No more take-the money-and run-companies that collapse overnight. Just fair prices from an energy company owned by us all and run for our benefit.”
The Green Party calculates the cost of fixing the price cap where it was last October at £37bn, this would be paid for, the party say, by plugging the loopholes in the windfall tax introduced by Rishi Sunak, and increased taxes for the super-rich.
Carla Denya said bringing “the big five energy retail companies into public ownership, setting the price of energy at an affordable rate and absorbing the global price rises, the government could make sure everybody can afford to get through this cost-of-living crisis”.
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