The Daily Telegraph
Truss vows ‘never again’ on energy bills
PM pledges to ‘revolutionise’ supply as she takes action to ease household fuel crisis
BRITONS must never again be forced to pay exorbitant energy bills, Liz Truss will declare today, as she promises more North Sea drilling and ditches the fracking ban.
Annual energy bills will be frozen at around £2,500 for the average household both this winter and next and green levies will be scrapped.
Businesses will get protection from energy price hikes in a Covid-style Government intervention that could end up costing more than £150 billion.
But yesterday the pound plummeted to its weakest level since 1985 on the Prime Minister’s first full day in office, as markets appeared to baulk at the scale of her move to tackle bills, underscoring the financial challenges ahead.
Ms Truss will say today: “I know families and businesses across the country are worried about how to make ends meet this autumn and winter.
“Putin’s war in Ukraine and weaponisation of gas supply in Europe is causing global prices to rise and this has made it clearer that we must boost our long-term energy security and supply.
“We will take action immediately to help people and businesses with bills but also take decisive action to tackle the root cause of these problems, so that we are not in this position again.”
A No10 source said Ms Truss wanted to “revolutionise energy supply” in Britain so that the soaring bills this winter would never be repeated.
She is understood to think the UK’S energy policy has been too short-termist and not focused enough on producing energy domestically. The announcements will both boost supply and make the UK more energy independent and resilient, the source said.
Ms Truss’s approach attempts to shelter households and firms from soaring prices while improving energy supply.
The energy price cap was meant to rise from £1,971 to £3,549 next month but that will be cancelled. Instead the annual amount the average household pays on energy will be around £2,500. On top of that, all 28 million households will still keep the £400 annual discount
‘Putin’s war in Ukraine has made it clearer that we must boost our long-term energy security and supply’
announced earlier in the year, pushing bills down further.
The scrapping of green levies on energy bills, a leadership campaign pledge from Ms Truss, is also expected to be confirmed today. She also indicated that she wants to help households that rely on heating oil for fuel.
Meanwhile, ministers are drawing up plans with energy companies on a public information campaign this winter to encourage people to reduce energy use, such as by switching off appliances and turning down thermostats.
The Daily Telegraph has learnt new details about Ms Truss’s plans to increase the UK’S energy supply in the medium term. The moratorium on fracking, in place since 2019, will be scrapped today, allowing companies to seek planning permission to drill for shale gas in the UK. Implementing the change can be done simply with a written ministerial statement to Parliament rather than full legislation, so removal of the ban will take effect rapidly.
Last night, a fracking industry source predicted planning permission requests for new drilling would be submitted within weeks of the ban lifting.
Although Ms Truss has said communities will need to give approval for such schemes, fracking companies will offer 25 per cent reductions to locals’ energy bills as an incentive.
The scale of the impact on energy supplies could also be improved if rules on planning, environmental permits and seismic activity are also loosened.
The Prime Minister will declare support for more oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, with changes to regulations
possible to speed up the process. She told an SNP MP in the Commons yesterday: “I want to see us using more of our UK energy supply, including more oil and gas from the North Sea and nuclear power in Scotland. I hope I can count on the SNP’S support for that.”
Ms Truss also said: “I will make sure that people are able to afford their energy bills, at the same time as dealing with the long-term supply issues to ensure that we are resilient in energy and never get into this position again.”
Environmental critics are sure to question whether more North Sea drilling and UK fracking will help the target of making the country a net zero carbon emitter by 2050. Ms Truss’s team believe the steps are needed in the medium term to help make the UK energy independent.
Rules seen as holding back the construction of offshore wind farms could also be torn up as the Government targets expansion.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, criticised Ms Truss for funding her energy plan with borrowing rather than a higher windfall tax on energy companies’ unusually high profits.
Sir Keir asked: “The Prime Minister knows that every single pound in excess profits that she chooses not to tax is an extra pound on borrowing that working people will be forced to pay back for decades to come.
“More borrowing than is needed — that is the true cost of her choice to protect oil and gas profits, isn’t it?
Ms Truss responded: “The reality is that this country will not be able to tax its way to growth. The way we will grow
‘More borrowing than is needed. That is the true cost of her choice to protect oil and gas profits, isn’t it?’
our economy is by attracting investment, keeping taxes low, and delivering the reforms to build projects quicker. That is the way that we will create jobs and opportunities across our country.”
Ms Truss berated Labour over its failure to elect a female leader as she took her seat for the first time at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
The Conservatives have had three women leaders, all of whom also served as Prime Minister, but Labour has never elected a woman to the top job.