JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Memo for the new Prime Minister – the energy crisis is the top priority, so show us you feel our pain with an urgent plan to tackle it
This Friday we will get a good idea of the pain that awaits us when the blatantly incompetent regulator Ofgem sets the new energy price cap which comes into effect from October.
Of course, this will put a damper on the long bank holiday weekend (despite the promising weather forecast).
Although every household’s usage is different, average energy bills are likely to increase by more than 170% from last year. According to comparison website The Energy Shop, the typical monthly energy drawdown will drop from £106 to £292.
Face to face: the next prime minister, whether Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, must show us that he feels our financial difficulties
“Energy poverty” will become the norm, not the exception, with 18 million households seeing at least 10% of their income absorbed by their energy bills.
Many people, especially the elderly, low-income households and single parents, will not be able to afford the higher payments.
Indeed, a retired friend told me last week that she had already contacted her supplier, saying there was no way she could pay the last payment by direct debit – and that is even before the new price cap comes into effect. dependent, she will pay what she can when she can.
I imagine she won’t be alone. What’s worrying is just the unpleasant hors d’oeuvres. The worst will come in the new year when Ofgem implements another increase.
If the energy experts are right, then we could see average annual energy bills jump to £4,200 from the current £1,971.
As I said last week, and I’m not ashamed to say it again, we need the government to come up with a plan that will protect most of us from the financial impact of grossly inflated energy bills. .
While Labour’s proposal to freeze the price cap at its current level until next March is riddled with holes, it is policy at least. Of course, in opposition it is easy to make grand statements, but the Labor plan puts the government firmly in the background.
So by the time Liz Truss is named Prime Minister in two weeks tomorrow, hopefully she will have fleshed out her plans to deal with the energy crisis. Reducing green energy taxes – saving households an average of £150 a year – is all well and good, but she urgently needs to come up with more to convince the electorate that she feels her financial hardship.
A strengthening of the bill reimbursement system – currently worth £400 per household – should be a priority.
FCA shortcomings exposed
Although my love for the BBC is now mostly limited to the Archers (I love you Peggy Archer) and morning forays into the Today show, the company does occasionally achieve a triumph.
Last week’s Panorama program was a good example of this as it examined the events surrounding the 2020 collapse of the Blackmore Bond property investment scheme, resulting in the loss of £46m by 2,000 investors.
In the crosshairs of the program was the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), accused of failing to act quickly on information it had received about the scheme, three years before the Blackmore implosion.
Some of you were quick to comment on the program and its conclusions.
“The FCA is as useful as a chocolate firewall,” said Edward Browne who is never short of an opinion or three (but always fair). John Rowlands, from Lichfield in Staffordshire, was equally blunt.
He was a victim of the collapse of the Woodford Equity Income fund more than three years ago and, like thousands of other investors, is patiently waiting for the FCA to release its report on the events surrounding the fund’s demise.
“Overwhelming evidence against FCA,” he said of the program. “Come on Jeff, give the FCA hell.”
So there you have it: in its current state, the FCA doesn’t give consumers the protection they deserve from thieves and bad guys.
No wonder Liz Truss is considering a massive financial regulatory overhaul that could see the FCA razed from the face of the earth.
Few – especially Edward and John – would grieve if that were to happen.