With no concrete policies from a caretaker UK government over how to tackle the energy price crisis, the vacuum has been filled with a raft of ideas from prime ministerial hopefuls, opposition parties and others. Here are the main proposals:
Boris Johnson’s government
With its pledge to not make any major policy or fiscal decisions, Downing Street is limited in what it can do, while Johnson himself has been largely absent for the summer. Last week, the prime minister did join a meeting with energy firm bosses, after which Johnson said he would be “urging” the electricity sector to keep bills low.
The Conservative leadership frontrunner has focused her attention on tax cuts, pledging to reverse the recent increase in national insurance. The only specific help on energy bills she has proposed is to suspend green levies, which would save the average household about £150 a year. Truss has not ruled out further help, but has repeatedly stressed her preference for tax cuts, although these would disproportionately help higher earners, and do nothing for pensioners or those not in work.
The former chancellor has in part pledged to stand by assistance he unveiled while still in government, and said last week that he would cut VAT on energy bills, at a cost of about £5bn a year, pledging a similar sum again on targeted help for poorer households.
Under a plan formally unveiled late on Sunday, the party would spend £29bn with a six-month scheme that would freeze energy prices at the current cap, before it goes up in October. This would assist all households, even richer ones, but Keir Starmer has argued it would bring certainty and help to curb inflation, thus helping people with other bills. It would be paid for in part by an expanded windfall tax on energy producers.
In a very similar scheme – one announced a week earlier – the party called for what the party’s leader, Sir Ed Davey, called an “energy furlough scheme”, that would freeze bills and also be financed in part by a wider windfall tax.
Announced last week in the absence of a formal Labour proposal, the ex-PM’s plan, unveiled in the Guardian, would mean a halt in any further rises in the price cap, negotiations on prices with individual companies over bill levels, and the possibility of temporary nationalisation for energy supply firms who could not keep bills down, modelled on what happened to some banks after the 2009 financial crash.