Soaring Energy Costs Could Push Millions to ‘Default Lockdown’ | Politics | New


There are fears that the rising cost of living will leave the country’s poorest citizens without cash for transport as they face the difficult choice of heating their homes or buying food. Growing concern over fuel costs and threats to supply have prompted MPs to call on the UK to become more self-sufficient by building more nuclear power plants and potentially drilling into UK gas reserves.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, warned: “A huge number of people, not just older citizens, but basically people on the brink of poverty everywhere, are really going to struggle …

“There is a fear that people will be pushed back by default into a self-imposed lockdown. “

National Energy Action also sounded the alarm, saying an additional 500,000 households could be plunged into fuel poverty due to rising bills this winter and saying it would only “get worse”.

The Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG), led by Conservative South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, has warned that green policies must not leave “the public poorer and colder”.

A Tory MP representing a former Labor ‘red wall’ seat said: ‘The problem is the eco-warriors have taken control of my party. “

The NZSG says, “We are deeply concerned about the cost of Net Zero policies, especially the burden they may place on our poorest voters … Urgent action is needed to protect consumers from the rapid rise in prices. electricity and gas bills.

He wants green levies to be removed from energy bills and integrated into general taxation to “protect people against sharp price increases”.

Lee Anderson, a former miner who won the Ashfield Nottinghamshire seat for the Tories in 2019, said: ‘What all of this shows is that we have to become self-sufficient in energy matters. look at shale gas, hydraulic fracturing and nuclear in the future. ”

Research conducted for the Energy and Utilities Alliance found that two-thirds of respondents (66.1%) fear they can afford to stay warm this winter. While nine in ten (95.8 percent) thought it was important for the government to invest in alternative energy sources such as zero carbon hydrogen to avoid a future gas crisis, only a quarter ( 24.6 percent) wanted gas central heating removed from homes and replaced with electrical appliances.

There is major support among Conservative MPs for a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Mark Jenkinson, who won the iconic constituency of Workington in 2019, said: “I am a big supporter of significantly increasing our nuclear capacity so that we can reduce the cost of electricity.

Virginia Crosbie, who turned Anglesey from red to blue in the last election, wants a new nuclear power plant and other energy projects to come to her constituency.

She said: “The spike in gas prices came as people turn the heat back on. We urgently need to reduce our dependence on imported gas and move to a more resilient and profitable energy system.

“Doubling our transition from fossil fuels to local zero-carbon electricity represents a tremendous opportunity for ridings like mine, Ynys Môn, where we already have nuclear expertise and an abundance of wind and waves. “

Andy Mayer of the Institute of Economic Affairs said the government should consider its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process for extracting gas underground.

He said: “This will not provide an immediate solution, but you could have projects ready to go in the north of England within a year. This would at least provide local sources of income and employment. “

However, Mark Logan, who took on Bolton North East from Labor in 2019, highlighted the measures in place to help low-income people.

He said: ‘It is right that vulnerable households are protected by the government’s extension to the energy price cap, saving 15 million UK households up to £ 100 a year, as well. than by extending the Warm Home Discount, which means that an additional 780,000 households get £ 150 lowered their bills each year.

Declaring his support for the continuation of the temporary £ 20 increase in universal credit payments introduced during the pandemic, he said: “I would support at least a short-term extension of the universal credit increase and I have no doubts that this government will make emergency funding available to help get through tough times.

Concern over the impact on the cost of living comes as the respected Resolution Foundation has warned that a “typical low-income family with children could see their income drop by more than £ 20 per week over the next six month”.

The pressures on the cost of living include rising inflation, the potential for an increase in the energy price cap and the introduction of the health and social tax.

Karl Handscomb, the foundation’s senior economist, said: “Low and middle income families will face the greatest pressure. Many of the high inflation factors are expected to be short-lived, but that will do little to reassure struggling families in the weeks and months to come.

“While policies like the National Living Wage will offer a welcome increase in income for some, for many low-income families, it will not offset the damage caused by the reduction in universal credit.”

A spokesperson defended the government’s green policies, saying: “Acting now will cost less than waiting to deal with the consequences of climate change. Costs continue to plummet as green technology advances, with solar and wind power now cheaper than existing coal and gas-fired power plants in most countries around the world.

“The UK economy has already grown by 78% while cutting emissions by 44% over the past three decades, securing jobs, investment and exports across the country. At every step of our journey to Net Zero, we will be guided by affordability and fairness.

“Nuclear power has a key role to play in this national effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which is why we are supporting the next generation of nuclear technology with additional funding and are seeking to approve at least one more nuclear project in the future. large scale. In the coming years.”

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