Jeremy Hunt sides with profiteers over people

A long-expected u-turn on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s plan to hike the Energy Price Guarantee was confirmed in the Budget today.

But it’s little more than a bail-out for energy suppliers in the face of soaring consumer debt, while fossil fuel giants will be left to keep raking in huge profits.

Now it’s time for us to push on for a real transformation of our energy system.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt wants to get out of the Energy Price Guarantee. He can’t.

Late last year, he u-turned twice on the government’s promise to limit energy bills to an average of £2,500. First, by saying it would run only for 6 months and end in April. Second, by returning to the original 2 year timescale, but at a higher rate of £3,000 from 1 April 2023.

In his Budget today, he u-turned again: the Energy Price Guarantee now will remain at £2,500 as originally announced by former Prime Minister Liz Truss.

We forced the Government to introduce the price guarantee. Despite his best efforts, Hunt still can’t get out of it.

Even with the Energy Price Guarantee, our bills have doubled in the last year – leaving millions of people unable to keep up. The total amount owed to energy suppliers has soared to an enormous £2.5 billion. If average prices rose, as planned, to £3,000 a year, this £2.5 billion would quickly become £3 billion.

So, after warnings from the energy industry that spiralling consumer debt could ‘swamp’ suppliers and leave some firms at risk of going under, yet another u-turn became inevitable.

Jeremy Hunt acted today to bail out the energy industry again. His priority not to protect households facing extortionate energy prices, but to protect the companies charging those prices.

Ultimately, we know the government isn’t going to reform the energy industry anytime soon. It’s still working exactly as intended: fossil fuel producers – such as BP, Shell, Equinor – are raking in hundreds of billions in profit and paying out huge dividends to shareholders.

If we’re to have any hope of a transformation in our energy system – so we all have access to affordable, sustainable energy – we have to make it happen ourselves.

The threat posed by our mass consumer strike forced the government to introduce the Energy Price Guarantee. We can build that power again.

To do this, we need to challenge the business model of this market – a model that delivers enormous profits and payouts at the top and freezes those at the bottom.

In the face of rising consumer debt, we know energy suppliers have been jacking up direct debits meaning households who pay every month end up with huge credits on their account. As we headed into winter, they’d raised an unprecedented £9 billion in consumer credit to help balance their books.

They’ve been using this money to keep the cash flowing while charging extortionate prices to millions who can’t afford to pay. As a recently departed Ofgem director wrote:

“It’s my guess that hard-pressed families have no idea that part of their energy direct debits are used to provide cheap financing for their supplier, rather than actually paying for energy consumed.”

We have to take back our credit.

For those who are in credit, this money is better in your own pocket. It shouldn’t be sitting in your energy supplier’s bank accounts so they can have an interest-free loan.

It’s vital we support and defend those who can’t pay and are being pursued for their debts and win an alternative to the current energy system – so let’s fight back and build our leverage again in every way we can.

Coming soon: tools and resources to help you get your own money back from the suppliers. Sign up to our mailing list to stay in touch and find out how to get involved: