British MPs attack May for scrapping energy price cap promise

Theresa May's government in July revealed an election promise to cap energy prices for 17m people would not be honoured. [Twocoms/ Shutterstock]

British lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called on Prime Minister Theresa May to fulfil an election pledge that would cap energy bills for 17 million people, after her government last month confirmed only 2.6 million extra people would actually benefit.

Ahead of June’s general election, May promised that all households on a standard variable tariff would have their energy bills capped in order to provide a fair deal for “ordinary working families”.

But in early July, Business Secretary Greg Clark revealed that only a fraction of the initial 17 million people would be eligible. Media reports suggested that May’s election embarrassment, where she lost her parliamentary majority, led cabinet ministers to force her to drop the pledge.

Under the revised plan, the existing cap, enjoyed by nearly 4 million people, will only be rolled out for an additional 2.6 million people who are on the Warm Home Discount scheme, most of whom are of pensionable age.

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Now, 53 MPs from the Conservative Party itself, the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party have lent their signatures to a letter calling on May to U-turn on her U-turn, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The letter, which will be delivered to the prime minister once parliament reassembles after the summer break, urges May to extend the cap, proposed by energy regulator Ofgem, to all 17 million people, in line with the original election promise.

They also ask the Conservative leader to “work with us and Ofgem to stop this Big Six [energy companies] stich-up, and pledge to help the millions of households who Ofgem seem set to ignore”.

British Gas, one of the so-called Big Six, increased its prices by up to 12.5% for 3 million customers shortly after May backtracked on her campaign promise, meaning all six energy firms have hiked their rates this year.

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Low, low prices

Earlier this month, the government announced it will launch an independent review into energy prices, with the aim of providing the lowest per household costs in all of Europe, with findings scheduled to be presented at the end of the year.

The review, headed by energy expert Professor Dieter Helm, will look at the “whole electricity supply chain” and aims to establish how climate targets can be met while also keeping energy bills low.

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