The action taken by the government to protect households, businesses and public sector organisations from significant rises in energy bills is vital.
Without this support, average household energy bills under the energy price cap had been set to rise to around £3,500 a year. Next year, they were estimated to increase even further to as high as £6,500.
From last weekend, the Energy Price Guarantee will limit the price households pay per unit of gas and electricity they use, helping to keep energy bills close to where they’ve been for the past six months.
It means a typical household in Great Britain will pay around £2,500 per year, starting this month for the next two years – saving an average £1,000 a year on their energy bills.
Households will also see the first instalment of the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme in their October electricity bill. The discount will be automatically applied monthly in six instalments between October 2022 and March 2023.
Many homes in rural areas like East Hampshire are of course not on the gas grid, and I know many of you will have been regularly checking the price movements of kerosene on sites like Boiler Juice.
As I write this those prices are down from their previous peaks, but still high.
For those not able to receive a support for heating costs through the Energy Price Guarantee, there will be a £100 payment.
Businesses, charities and public sector organisations will also be protected through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme from October over the next six months.
This support is equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households, meaning businesses and others will pay wholesale energy costs well below half of what had been the expected prices for this winter.
The level of support for each organisation will vary depending on type and date of contract.
A review into the operation of the scheme will be published in three months’ time, to help determine future support after March 2023.
The review will focus in particular on identifying the most vulnerable non-domestic customers and how the government will continue assisting them with energy costs.
These are likely to be those who are least able to adjust, for example by reducing energy usage or increasing energy efficiency.
And for those who get their energy through a landlord, heat network or energy service company, including park home residents, those benefits should be passed on in a reasonable and proportionate way.
Reductions in prices in both schemes encompass reductions in green levies.
The temporary suspension as part of the domestic Energy Price Guarantee contributes £150 to the £1,000 yearly average price rise mitigation.
We are though unfortunately already seeing scams and fraudulent messages relating to these programmes, trying to extract personal information from individuals and businesses.
There is no requirement to ‘apply’ for the schemes so any request or offer that seeks personal data or bank details could be a scam.
It was important for the new government to act decisively on this, recognising that the cost of not doing so would have been enormous.
In parallel, it is important that steps are also taken to build longer term energy security and independence, and the government is looking at scaling up home-grown energy and reducing our reliance on foreign supplies.
This includes the work of the Energy Supply Taskforce, a new oil and gas licensing round, and driving forward progress on nuclear and renewables.
On top of the decarbonisation imperative, the energy crisis has also of course sharply reminded us all of how critical it is that we seek to reduce usage, as individuals, as households and as businesses.
There needs to be a sustained focus on energy efficiency in the months ahead.