Hello. While partygate has been in the headlines for weeks, most politicians believe the cost of living crisis is the story that will affect lives the most this year and will be the battleground in the upcoming election. And today, it is exploding at the top of the news.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, will this morning announce an increase in the cap on energy bills which will effectively represent the largest increase in the amount people pay for heating on record. The announcement was brought forward so it could coincide with a parallel announcement from Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, on what the government will do to help.
Like Jillian Ambroise and Rowena Mason report in their story overnight, Sunak is expected to announce a series of measures, combining loans to energy companies to allow them to offer discounts to consumers – a measure that should help everyone – as well as targeted measures for poorer families, which are likely to involve council tax rebates and extended benefits that help cover fuel costs.
Related: Treasury prepares 11-hour package to ease national cost of living crisis
However, for most consumers, these measures should only mitigate the impact of rising bills; people are still expected to face skyrocketing costs.
This morning Labor renewed its calls for a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies to help fund measures that would help families pay their bills. After Shell said 2021 had been a “momentous” year for the company by announcing its latest revenue figures, Ed MilibandShadow Secretary of State for Climate and Net Zero said:
As oil and gas profits have soared in recent months due to soaring energy prices, it is clearer than ever that North Sea oil and gas producers who have made their fortunes recently should be invited to contribute.
Labor would keep energy bills low, and we wouldn’t make bill payers pay the bills as they head into a spring of higher taxes and rising prices.
Our plan, partly funded by a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas profits, would save most households £200 on their bills, with targeted support of up to £400 more for the busy environment, retirees and the lowest salaries.
Labor will reform our failing energy system so we can deliver the green transition we need, energy security and affordable bills.
It was Miliband, of course, who first proposed an energy price cap when he was leader of the Labor Party in 2013. At the time, Tories called the ideas Marxist, but Theresa May then passed the proposal and now it’s one of those policies (like minimum wage, decentralization or same-sex marriage) that has gone from highly controversial to such cross-party support that it’s probably here to stay .
I will cover the political aspects of this story, but my colleague Graeme Wearden will cover the business side, including the likely announcement of an interest rate hike from the Bank of England, his corporate live blog. It’s here.
Related: Cost of living crisis: rising energy price cap and fixing interest rates in the UK
Here is the program for the day.
9 a.m.: Keir Starmer gives a speech about trust in Edelman.
10 a.m.: CBI Director General Tony Danker speaks to the Center for Policy Studies.
After 10:30 a.m.: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, takes questions from MPs on Commons business next week.
11 a.m.: Ofgem makes its energy price cap announcement.
11 a.m.: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
Around 11:30 a.m.: Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, makes a statement to MPs on measures to help households with the cost of living.
12 p.m.: Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, answers questions in the Scottish Parliament.
5 p.m.: Sunak holds a press conference.
Additionally, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the Upgrade Secretary, are visiting the North West.
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