PENSIONERS have condemned Tory plans for a price cap on energy tariffs as another “empty promise.”
Draft legislation is due to be published on Thursday giving energy regulator Ofgem powers to impose a cap on standard variable tariffs.
But Ofgem is already preparing its own proposals for a cap and Downing Street made clear last week that the legislation could be scrapped if the regulator is able to set its cap more quickly.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced in last week’s speech to the Conservative Party conference that she intended to use the law to protect about 2.3 million vulnerable consumers from energy price rises.
She had suffered post-election criticism for dropping a manifesto pledge to cap energy bills for 17 million people in Britain on standard variable tariffs. Fifty-three Tory MPs, including 20 former ministers, signed a letter calling for more protection for millions of households who continue to be preyed on by the “big six” energy companies.
National Pensioners’ Convention general secretary Jan Shortt said: “There has been a lot of talk about tackling the excessive profits and charges made by the big six energy companies, but this has yet to lead to anything concrete.
“Fuel bills for older and vulnerable customers have soared over the last few years but pensions and benefits have simply not kept pace.
“Next month we will find out the scale of the winter deaths for last year, and there is little doubt that the price of keeping warm is a factor in older people dying from the cold.
“This issue needs urgent action rather than more empty promises.”
Shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said that the government appeared to be “proposing to merely give Ofgem the power to institute a more wide-ranging cap without compelling it to do so.
“Rather than act now to help households and businesses struggling with rising bills, the government is relying on a broken energy market to regulate itself.
“The next Labour government will introduce an emergency price cap ourselves while taking the bold measures needed to reform our broken energy market in the long run such as bringing energy back into public ownership.”