Rishi Sunak ‘missing in action’ on UK energy crisis, Labour say

1/13/2022 9:58:00 PM

Rishi Sunak ‘missing in action’ on UK energy crisis, Labour say

Rishi Sunak, Energy Bills

Rishi Sunak ‘missing in action’ on UK energy crisis, Labour say

Rachel Reeves urges action before expected surge in gas and electricity prices in April

Thu 13 Jan 2022 18.(Image: GETTY ) This comes as the government struggles to deal with a cost of living crisis (Image: Lauren Hurley/ PA Wire/ PA Images) There have been warnings that average households could pay almost £700 or more a year, amid surging prices for wholesale gas worldwide.(Image: GETTY ) This comes as the government struggles to deal with a cost of living crisis (Image: Lauren Hurley/ PA Wire/ PA Images) There have been warnings that average households could pay almost £700 or more a year, amid surging prices for wholesale gas worldwide.Ukraine will intensify this week, when senior American and Russian officials meet: first bilaterally, then collectively with NATO and at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

46 GMT Last modified on Thu 13 Jan 2022 18.47 GMT Rishi Sunak has been accused of going “missing in action” on Britain’s unfolding energy crisis, as he faced claims he was positioning himself for a potential leadership bid. The Treasury is reportedly reviewing all green levies, including more substantial ones for boosting renewable energy. With pressure growing on the chancellor to act, Rachel Reeves, his Labour shadow, said urgent steps were needed to help hard-pressed families before an expected surge in gas and electricity prices from April. However, many of these charges are subject to binding contracts, meaning the Government would still have to pay them even if they were taken off consumer bills. “The chancellor has been missing in action on the energy crisis, leaving working people worrying about what the government will do as bills skyrocket and their taxes are about to be hiked,” she said. READ MORE:  The crisis led to many energy companies going bust (Image: Express) Trending Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with the Chancellor on Sunday night to discuss the cost of living crisis. It comes after Sunak declined on Wednesday night to hand his full backing to Boris Johnson amid growing public anger over Downing Street parties, with the chancellor using a Twitter post to issue a lukewarm endorsement of the prime minister, fuelling intense speculation among Tories over his own leadership ambitions. Beyond Europe, trouble is brewing in the Middle East as nuclear talks with Iran falter.

While Johnson apologised in parliament for attending a Downing Street “bring your own booze” garden party during the May 2020 lockdown, Sunak spent Wednesday on a ministerial visit to Devon, hundreds of miles from Westminster. He said: “There’s a general inflationary pressure caused by the world economy coming back from Covid, and in the US, I think, inflation is likely to be the highest it’s been since the early Eighties. He said: “There’s a general inflationary pressure caused by the world economy coming back from Covid, and in the US, I think, inflation is likely to be the highest it’s been since the early Eighties. In a carefully worded tweet posted at 8pm, after eight hours of public silence, Sunak said he supported Johnson’s request for patience until the conclusion of an official inquiry. There have been suggestions at Westminster that Sunak could withdraw his support from the embattled prime minister by resigning. Here in the UK, I’m afraid we’re seeing the same problem. But a former Tory cabinet minister dismissed that idea, saying: “He who wields the knife never wears the crown.” DON'T MISS:. You don’t want to do a [Michael] Heseltine. Nor is there a counter-terrorism co-ordinator or a legal adviser.

” Sources close to the chancellor said he had returned to London to hold a raft of meetings at the Treasury on Thursday on how best to respond to the energy crisis , amid signs of the government beginning to ready a response after months of pressure from consumer groups, industry representatives, and MPs. It is understood a plan will be announced before Friday 4 February, when the energy watchdog Ofgem is expected to announce by how much average bills will rise as it lifts the cap on what energy companies can charge. Without intervention, British consumers face a rise in their energy bills of more than £700 from April. “The chancellor has been conducting meetings all week on how to best to respond to the energy crisis, including with the prime minister, colleagues and fellow MPs,” said a Tory source. “Unlike the Labour party, we are considering the complexities of the situation and working on how best to target support appropriately. Even so, Mr Biden still has 68 empty ambassadorial positions out of a total 190, according to the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats’ union.

” Energy industry sources said they had been concerned for some time that ministers were taking too long to grasp the severity of the situation. Coming amid surging costs on the wholesale markets, the hike is expected to drive millions of homes into fuel poverty for the first time and take a disproportionate toll on households with lower incomes and older bill payers. “We’re expecting something to be done within the next couple of weeks, before the new price cap is announced,” one industry source said. “But we can only hope that the plans are enough to address the scale of the crisis without playing politics.” “Since the autumn it has felt like we’re dealing with a government which half hopes that the situation may resolve itself; that maybe the [gas] markets will cool off, and it won’t look so bad by the spring. Yet that is a slothful pace, with only about 450 people named to the 800 most important jobs.

But thankfully there are parts of government which can now see the wider economic implications of these energy costs,” the source added. Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at the charity National Energy Action, said action was vital before the April jump in utility bills. “Without providing clarity urgently, this risks leaving many members of the public wondering whether or not there is a plan to help,” he said. Labour claimed Sunak had been repeatedly absent at key moments. In December, he was forced to fly back from meetings with Silicon Valley executives in California as the Omicron wave of Covid-19 worsened and hospitality businesses pressed for help from the Treasury. Between them Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida and, above all, Ted Cruz of Texas have delayed or blocked dozens of nominations, whether to posture or to extract concessions on various foreign-policy demands.

Reeves said: “He has got form on going awol. He had to be dragged back kicking and screaming from California when businesses faced huge risks when the Omicron variant hit, he was no where to be seen during PMQs or when we debated a VAT cut on home energy bills in parliament this week.” Possible interventions that could be considered by the chancellor include reforms to the warm homes discount (WHD), including a possible state-funded expansion of the scheme to help the most vulnerable customers with the cost of their bills. Energy suppliers have suggested £20bn of loans, possibly backed by government guarantees, could help cover the cost of providing a safety net for bust providers before borrowed funds would be repaid at a later date. However, there are concerns over how this might look politically, while a stubbornly high energy price could make repayments at a later date harder to stomach. Other officials can take up the work.

Another option would be to cut the 5% rate of VAT on energy bills – a plan called for by Labour but so far rejected by the government, despite it having been promoted by Boris Johnson as a potential Brexit bonus before he became prime minister. Analysts at the US investment bank Goldman Sachs – including chief UK economist Steffan Ball, a former top adviser to Phillip Hammond – said they expected an energy support package worth about £3.4bn funded through government borrowing. It said this could include a £100 increase in the WHD scheme, alongside a VAT cut and loans to energy suppliers. Options including a windfall tax on oil and gas firms which have benefited from soaring prices, as well as any increase in benefits, appear unlikely, they added. Two decades on, the PPS reckons, Mr Biden had about a third of the equivalent staff in their jobs.

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Thu 13 Jan 2022 18.(Image: GETTY ) This comes as the government struggles to deal with a cost of living crisis (Image: Lauren Hurley/ PA Wire/ PA Images) There have been warnings that average households could pay almost £700 or more a year, amid surging prices for wholesale gas worldwide.(Image: GETTY ) This comes as the government struggles to deal with a cost of living crisis (Image: Lauren Hurley/ PA Wire/ PA Images) There have been warnings that average households could pay almost £700 or more a year, amid surging prices for wholesale gas worldwide.Ukraine will intensify this week, when senior American and Russian officials meet: first bilaterally, then collectively with NATO and at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

46 GMT Last modified on Thu 13 Jan 2022 18.47 GMT Rishi Sunak has been accused of going “missing in action” on Britain’s unfolding energy crisis, as he faced claims he was positioning himself for a potential leadership bid. The Treasury is reportedly reviewing all green levies, including more substantial ones for boosting renewable energy. With pressure growing on the chancellor to act, Rachel Reeves, his Labour shadow, said urgent steps were needed to help hard-pressed families before an expected surge in gas and electricity prices from April. However, many of these charges are subject to binding contracts, meaning the Government would still have to pay them even if they were taken off consumer bills. “The chancellor has been missing in action on the energy crisis, leaving working people worrying about what the government will do as bills skyrocket and their taxes are about to be hiked,” she said. READ MORE:  The crisis led to many energy companies going bust (Image: Express) Trending Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with the Chancellor on Sunday night to discuss the cost of living crisis. It comes after Sunak declined on Wednesday night to hand his full backing to Boris Johnson amid growing public anger over Downing Street parties, with the chancellor using a Twitter post to issue a lukewarm endorsement of the prime minister, fuelling intense speculation among Tories over his own leadership ambitions. Beyond Europe, trouble is brewing in the Middle East as nuclear talks with Iran falter.

While Johnson apologised in parliament for attending a Downing Street “bring your own booze” garden party during the May 2020 lockdown, Sunak spent Wednesday on a ministerial visit to Devon, hundreds of miles from Westminster. He said: “There’s a general inflationary pressure caused by the world economy coming back from Covid, and in the US, I think, inflation is likely to be the highest it’s been since the early Eighties. He said: “There’s a general inflationary pressure caused by the world economy coming back from Covid, and in the US, I think, inflation is likely to be the highest it’s been since the early Eighties. In a carefully worded tweet posted at 8pm, after eight hours of public silence, Sunak said he supported Johnson’s request for patience until the conclusion of an official inquiry. There have been suggestions at Westminster that Sunak could withdraw his support from the embattled prime minister by resigning. Here in the UK, I’m afraid we’re seeing the same problem. But a former Tory cabinet minister dismissed that idea, saying: “He who wields the knife never wears the crown.” DON'T MISS:. You don’t want to do a [Michael] Heseltine. Nor is there a counter-terrorism co-ordinator or a legal adviser.

” Sources close to the chancellor said he had returned to London to hold a raft of meetings at the Treasury on Thursday on how best to respond to the energy crisis , amid signs of the government beginning to ready a response after months of pressure from consumer groups, industry representatives, and MPs. It is understood a plan will be announced before Friday 4 February, when the energy watchdog Ofgem is expected to announce by how much average bills will rise as it lifts the cap on what energy companies can charge. Without intervention, British consumers face a rise in their energy bills of more than £700 from April. “The chancellor has been conducting meetings all week on how to best to respond to the energy crisis, including with the prime minister, colleagues and fellow MPs,” said a Tory source. “Unlike the Labour party, we are considering the complexities of the situation and working on how best to target support appropriately. Even so, Mr Biden still has 68 empty ambassadorial positions out of a total 190, according to the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats’ union.

” Energy industry sources said they had been concerned for some time that ministers were taking too long to grasp the severity of the situation. Coming amid surging costs on the wholesale markets, the hike is expected to drive millions of homes into fuel poverty for the first time and take a disproportionate toll on households with lower incomes and older bill payers. “We’re expecting something to be done within the next couple of weeks, before the new price cap is announced,” one industry source said. “But we can only hope that the plans are enough to address the scale of the crisis without playing politics.” “Since the autumn it has felt like we’re dealing with a government which half hopes that the situation may resolve itself; that maybe the [gas] markets will cool off, and it won’t look so bad by the spring. Yet that is a slothful pace, with only about 450 people named to the 800 most important jobs.

But thankfully there are parts of government which can now see the wider economic implications of these energy costs,” the source added. Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at the charity National Energy Action, said action was vital before the April jump in utility bills. “Without providing clarity urgently, this risks leaving many members of the public wondering whether or not there is a plan to help,” he said. Labour claimed Sunak had been repeatedly absent at key moments. In December, he was forced to fly back from meetings with Silicon Valley executives in California as the Omicron wave of Covid-19 worsened and hospitality businesses pressed for help from the Treasury. Between them Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida and, above all, Ted Cruz of Texas have delayed or blocked dozens of nominations, whether to posture or to extract concessions on various foreign-policy demands.

Reeves said: “He has got form on going awol. He had to be dragged back kicking and screaming from California when businesses faced huge risks when the Omicron variant hit, he was no where to be seen during PMQs or when we debated a VAT cut on home energy bills in parliament this week.” Possible interventions that could be considered by the chancellor include reforms to the warm homes discount (WHD), including a possible state-funded expansion of the scheme to help the most vulnerable customers with the cost of their bills. Energy suppliers have suggested £20bn of loans, possibly backed by government guarantees, could help cover the cost of providing a safety net for bust providers before borrowed funds would be repaid at a later date. However, there are concerns over how this might look politically, while a stubbornly high energy price could make repayments at a later date harder to stomach. Other officials can take up the work.

Another option would be to cut the 5% rate of VAT on energy bills – a plan called for by Labour but so far rejected by the government, despite it having been promoted by Boris Johnson as a potential Brexit bonus before he became prime minister. Analysts at the US investment bank Goldman Sachs – including chief UK economist Steffan Ball, a former top adviser to Phillip Hammond – said they expected an energy support package worth about £3.4bn funded through government borrowing. It said this could include a £100 increase in the WHD scheme, alongside a VAT cut and loans to energy suppliers. Options including a windfall tax on oil and gas firms which have benefited from soaring prices, as well as any increase in benefits, appear unlikely, they added. Two decades on, the PPS reckons, Mr Biden had about a third of the equivalent staff in their jobs.

Topics .