Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsey has warned that government plans to deal with the soaring cost of energy will still leave millions of people unable to afford to heat their homes this winter.
Last week newly appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her plan to help businesses and families pay their energy costs.
The measures announced included freezing household bills from 1 October, meaning an average family will pay £2,500 a year for their energy and setting up a fund to help households who are not on standard gas and electricity contracts.
Businesses, including those in sectors such as hospitality which are at most risk will receive protection, and schools, hospitals and other public buildings will also have access to support.
Adrian Ramsey said, the plan announced by the prime minister “still leaves energy unaffordable for millions of households”, adding that it still risks “forcing many people to choose whether to heat or eat this winter”.
The Green Party has proposed freezing energy prices at the level they were at in October last year, meaning the average household bill would be £1,277. They have also called for the big five energy companies to be taken into public ownership, for more investment in renewable energy, and a nationwide home insulation programme.
This contrasts with government plans to grant 100 new licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels imported from Russia. Prime Minister Truss is supportive of extending oil exploration and plans to scrap the green levy on energy bills as part of her support package.
Adrian Ramsey said plans to grant more drilling licences whilst the UK still holds the COP presidency was “inexplicable”, saying that it will only increase the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and further damage the climate whilst failing to bring down energy bills. He continues:
“The only logical explanation for this reckless plan, along with cutting the so-called green levy, is that Truss is making an ideological choice to curry favour with friends and Tory Party donors in the oil and gas industry.”
Anti-poverty campaigners the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have warned that despite government plans millions of households will still need support, they identified a £800 gap between the support on offer and the actual rise in the cost of living.
The foundation has called for more targeted help for struggling households who, chief analysis Peter Matejic said were “extremely worried” about how to fill the gap.
The Institute for Government has also expressed concerns that a potentially worse crisis may be coming next winter if more is not done to insulate the UK’s draughty housing stock. Currently the UK falls behind many other European countries in insulating homes to cut energy wastage.
Adrian Ramsey said, “The most effective and sustainable way of bringing down the cost of living is to invest in insulating houses and massively ramping up renewable energy”, adding that the plan put forward by the Greens was a “to tackle energy costs now, create lower bills in future and ensure we move towards a cleaner, greener and cheaper energy supply.”