Government ministers were absent from the airwaves early on Friday, even as the news that the energy price cap will increase to £3,549 from October prompted concern across the country.
Presenters on breakfast news programmes, shows where Government ministers are usually booked to appear, pointed out the absence to listeners and viewers on Friday morning.
Earlier this week, the Government put up schools minister Will Quince to speak about GCSE results, but no ministers were on any of the main broadcasters on Friday morning to speak about the increase in the energy price cap.
NEW: Energy prices to rise by 80% in October.
This is incredibly worrying and will strike fear in the heart of many families.
We cannot wait any longer to act. This is a national emergency.
The Tories must freeze energy bills now so households don’t pay a penny more in winter.
— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) August 26, 2022
Kate Garraway, one of the presenters on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, urged the Government to put forward a representative to speak to them.
“Who we’re not hearing from so far this morning is the Government themselves,” she said.
“And we would love you to come on and give us some guidance.
“I know there is a leadership election currently there, so there will be issues about who is actually going to be at the helm come the week, 10 days when that decision is made, but we would love to hear from you this morning, because there is a lot of people that want clarity.”
The Treasury issued a statement from Nadhim Zahawi, with the Chancellor expected to speak to broadcasters at some point on Friday morning.
Mr Zahawi, who could be replaced by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in days if Liz Truss emerges victorious in the Tory leadership contest, released a short statement in which he said “help is coming” from the Government.
“I know the energy price cap announcement this morning will cause stress and anxiety for many people, but help is coming with £400 off energy bills for all, the second instalment of a £650 payment for vulnerable households, and £300 for all pensioners.
“While (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is driving up energy prices in revenge for our support of Ukraine’s brave struggle for freedom, I am working flat out to develop options for further support.
“This will mean the incoming prime minister can hit the ground running and deliver support to those who need it most, as soon as possible.”
The current Prime Minister, who will leave office in less than two weeks’ time, is also expected to speak to the media during a visit in Surrey later this morning.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly indicated that major fiscal decisions should be left to his successor, prompting accusations from opponents that the UK currently has a “zombie Government” incapable of taking any decisions.
Ms Truss, who is widely tipped to replace Mr Johnson, was also not on the airwaves on Friday morning.
Instead, a campaign spokesman said: “Today’s announcement will cause grave concern to many people across the UK who will be worried about paying their bills.
“As prime minister, Liz would ensure people get the support needed to get through these tough times.
“She will immediately take action to put more money back in people’s pockets by cutting taxes and suspending green energy tariffs.”
The apparent absence of Government ministers prompted severe criticism from Labour.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves accused ministers of being nowhere to be seen on the morning of the Ofgem announcement.
She said people are “worried sick” about the cap rise, which is “striking fear in the hearts of families right across the country”.
She called on the Government to freeze energy bills and follow Labour’s proposals.
“The fact that no Government minister is available to come on your programme today is just appalling.
“They are not here to give assurances, they are not here to set out what they are going to do.
“That is a dereliction of duty.”