Police are reportedly preparing for a ‘tidal wave’ of violent crime and public disorder as the UK battles an ever-worsening cost of living crisis fuelled by Vladimir Putin’s energy war.
Chiefs are said to be drawing up contingency plans to deal with the potential fallout that may come as millions of Britons face financial hardship this winter.
The chiefs are concerned that ‘economic turmoil and financial instability’ has the potential to spark a rise in crime, specially ‘acquisitive’ offences, a leaked national strategy paper has revealed. Authorities fear the UK will see a tick in shoplifting, burglary, vehicle theft, online fraud, blackmail and other crimes that ‘rely on exploiting financial vulnerability’.
The officers’ concern comes after Ofgem raised the price cap on household bills by 80 per cent to £3,549 beginning next month and left nearly 88 per cent of adults across Britain worried about gas and electricity costs.
Meantime, Putin has indefinitely halt suspended gas supply through Europe’s key pipeline route. Officials have revealed Britain may be forced to buy back gas exported to Europe to keep the lights on this winter after giving away roughly 15 per cent of its supplies.
With little storage of its own, Britain does typically buy gas back from the Continent during winter. This year, it will leave the country exposed to higher prices and market havoc if Russia goes further.
Police are preparing for a ‘tidal wave’ of violent crime and public disorder as the UK battles an ever-worsening cost of living crisis fuelled by Vladimir Putin’s energy war
Police chiefs are working on contingency plans to deal with the potential fallout that may come as millions of Britons face financial hardship this winter
The officers’ concern comes after Ofgem raised the price cap on household bills by 80 per cent to £3,549 beginning next month
Big Christmas SWITCH-OFF: Festive fairy light displays cancelled by councils and twinkling tree decorations ‘unaffordable’ for families in face of soaring energy prices
There is set to be less sparkle this Christmas with fairy lights being axed by councils and ditched by struggling families as electricity bills soar.
Extravagant festive light displays on high streets and homes are a tradition up and down the country during the winter months.
But now towns and villages known for their dazzling displays are deciding not to put up the lights this year and are cancelling popular switch-on events.
An extravagant Christmas light display on a house in Saxifrage Way, Worthing, in 2020
The council in the picturesque Devonshire town of Budleigh Salterton said it ‘could not take on the cost of the lights in the economic climate’, The Star reported.
Ely in Camridgeshire scrapped its display months ago as it said its typical £9,000 bill, which is likely to have increased by now, would not be a wise way to spend taxpayers’ money.
Guildford Council is also scrapping it’s switch-on event, with it’s leader saying last month that it ‘faces significant financial challenges’.
While the council is protecting the budget for its much-loved Christmas celebrations, it says it has concerns it cannot afford to accommodate the size of the crowd.
‘We cannot afford or justify value for money for such an additional significant cost,’ Council leader, Joss Bigmore, said.
Businesses, which do not have energy bill price caps, are also set to opt out of decorations and are even switching off their regular lighting already.
The house of Helen and John Attlesey in Soham in Cambridgeshire, decorated with hundreds of Christmas lights, pictured in November 2020
Expensive beer garden lighting is also being switched off at venues across the country as publicans face soaring overheads.
One pub owner told MailOnline he had been forking out £50 an hour to keep festoon lighting on.
Meanwhile, concerned households are already planning to leave their Christmas lights in their boxes.
‘Not bothering with a Christmas tree – can’t afford to turn the lights on. Dark days,’ one person said.
Twitter users express concern that Chrsitmas lights will be ‘unaffordable’ this year
‘All the folk that go mad for Christmas lights are going to have an expensive winter,’ warned another man on social media.
Another said: ‘Wonder how many families won’t be able to put outside Christmas lights on this year due to energy prices? Feel sorry for the children.’
But one Christmas fanatic refused to have their festive spirit dampened by the energy price crisis, tweeting: ‘We have LEDs everywhere, never will I sacrifice Christmas even if its just a week of lights’, while others recommended solar panel lights to keep the ‘gloomy’ winter at bay.
The strategy paper, created with input from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, argues there is a ‘more complex and unpredictable risk’ and ‘greater chance of civil unrest’ as UK residents battle with soaring living costs.
The document – reviewed by The Sunday Times – states that officials are concerned that ‘prolonged and painful economic pressure’ will lead to a spike in criminal activity.
In addition to crimes rooted in financial vulnerability, some police forces are preparing for more children to be sucked into drug gangs. Others worry women will become victim of sexual exploitation.
There is also concern that those who are victims of domestic abuse will become less likely to report their partner because of an increased reliance on the other person.
‘The cost of living crisis is going to add to the ability of abusers to manipulate and control people,’ Merseyside police and crime commissioner Emily Spurrell said.
Simon Foster, police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, echoed: ‘I am particularly concerned that vulnerable young people will be at increasing risk of becoming victims of crime and criminal exploitation as the cost of living crisis bites.
‘This is an issue that I have been working with West Midlands police on for several months and I know that they and other forces are expecting it to have an impact on the demands they will face this winter.’
Some officers say they are also fearful that without significant government intervention, the country may return to the ‘febrile conditions’ that led to the London riots in 2011.
‘Greater financial vulnerability may expose some staff to higher risk of corruption, especially among those who fall into significant debt or financial difficulties,’ the document states.
It also encourages Liz Truss, who is expected to be the next Prime Minister, put in a ‘significant’ package that would ease the impacts of the crisis and hopefully deter crime.
‘They feel confident that if she [Truss] wins and puts in a significant package of support, offending shouldn’t drastically increase,’ an unnamed MP briefed who was allegedly briefed their local police force told the newspaper.
‘If the support doesn’t meet expectations, they would be expecting similar scenes to 2011.’
Meantime, the Government may be forced to purchase back the gas it exported to Europe in effort to meet the energy needs of Britons this winter.
Due to the UK’s lack of storage, supplies previously shipped to terminals in the UK and then piped abroad will have to be pumped back into the country as temperatures fall.
Large volumes of fuel have been sent to the European Union via the UK in recent months as countries struggle to fill up their storage sites after Russia limited supplies, according to The Telegraph.
Peter Thompson, a gas market expert at the consultancy Baringa, said: ‘Effectively the UK’s market stores gas in continental Europe storage, and then it’s pulled back out in the winter.
‘That’s normally what happens. But I think there is a question entering this winter – there’s no business as usual position.
‘The extent to which that happens is going to depend on all sorts of things – Russian supply, how cold the winter is.’
On Friday, Russia said its key Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe would not reopen as planned.
Gazprom, the state gas giant, blamed technical problems but Russia is accused of weaponising supplies in retaliation over sanctions.
Europe does not have enough Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals for its needs, so Britain accepted shipments at its three facilities on the EU’s behalf over summer.
The product is then turned back into gas in Britain and piped over to Europe, which does not have enough LNG terminals of its own, via pipes to Belgium and the Netherlands.
The EU’s sites are now currently 80 per cent full.
Local gas from the UK and Norwegian side of the North Sea is also being sent to Europe via the UK.
National Grid estimates that these supplies account for about 70-75 per cent of current exports.
Ian Radley, director of system operations at National Grid, told an industry meeting last month that the UK is on course to export 14billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas to the EU by the start of winter, or about 14 per cent of total EU storage capacity.
He said: ‘The National Transmission System here in the UK has and continues to play a critical role in supporting the EU’s ambitions of refilled storage.’
Mr Radley added the practical challenges of its involvement ‘are dwarfed by the benefits of continuing to maximize export capacity, doing what we can do as a nation to alleviate what could be and continues to be a very challenging situation for everyone’.
Britain generally exports gas to Europe during summer, although normally at far lower volumes than this year.
The country then imports during winter as its own demand rises.
Aurora Energy Research says that in a normal winter, the UK can get as much as 25-30 per cent of its gas supplies from the EU.
For imports to flow to the UK, prices need to be higher than they are in the EU.
On cold days this winter, that could require exceptionally high prices in Britain, adding to the pressure on households and businesses following more than a year of soaring gas prices. If supplies in Europe worsens, there is a risk some countries will curb exports.
Aurora Energy Research estimates that the UK will need to import at least 10 per cent of its gas from the EU this winter to meet demand. However, S&P Global Commodity Insights forecasts that Britain will be a net exporter to the EU this winter, because LNG shipments will continue to arrive. It is likely to still need some EU imports on individual cold days, however.
Ying Chin Chou, a senior analyst at S&P, said that every one degree decrease in temperature can increase demand for gas for heating by 10-15 million cubic metres (mcm). She added: ‘Demand can escalate quite quickly.’
S&P believes gas demand in Britain will in any case be 40mcm per day lower than normal this winter, or about 15 per cent less, as rising energy bills drive cuts in demand, among other factors.
Last week, Centrica won permission to reopen its Rough natural gas storage site in the North Sea, which closed in 2017. However, it remains in talks with ministers about financial support for the site over the long term, and has not set a date for re-opening.
John Redwood, the Tory MP who is tipped to return to government if Liz Truss wins the Tory leadership contest on Monday, said it was a strategic ‘mistake’ not to have more storage.
Britain will be forced to buy back gas exported to Europe to keep the lights on this winter after giving away roughly 15 per cent of its supplies
Large volumes of fuel have been sent to the European Union via the UK in recent months as countries struggle to fill up their storage sites after Russia limited supplies
‘Of course, I think we need more gas storage but my number one urging for many years has been getting more of our own gas out of the North Sea, and onshore where local communities go along with it.
‘But the UK position is an awful lot stronger than the German or Italian position, which were much more dependent on Russian gas.’
A spokesman for the Business Department said: ‘When the market price is higher Europe, gas flows to the Continent. When the price is higher in the UK, gas flows back home. This is driven entirely by the market, not by Government.
‘Britain is at a strategic advantage compared to other countries in Europe. The UK’s secure and diverse energy supplies will ensure households, businesses and industry can be confident they can get the electricity and gas they need.’
This comes as the scale of energy rationing that may be required at home, in the NHS, schools, care homes, shops, pubs and on the streets of Britain because of surging energy prices and the threat of blackouts is laid bare.
Experts have told MailOnline there is ‘no escape’ for the 66million people in the UK who will be encouraged to cut their use of gas and electricity this winter and even turn off the lights when the wind drops.
Kathryn Porter, from consultancy Watt-Logic, fears that the crisis will cost lives in the coming months and told MailOnline: ‘We should keep our fingers crossed for a warm and windy winter’. Ms Porter has said that it’s ‘very possible’ the UK will see plans for energy rationing, despite Liz Truss, the likely next prime minister, absolutely ruling it out, but the energy expert added: ‘It would be voluntary, asking people to make a small sacrifice to avoid blackouts’.
Britons could be asked to limit energy use this winter to head off blackouts by avoiding using gas and electricity at peak times in a move that will hit every part of life.
At home people may be encouraged not to use washing machines, dishwashers and ovens between 2pm and 8pm while charging cars before 9pm is also not advised when similar measures were imposed in the US this year. Abandoning the family weekday dinner at 6pm or the Sunday roast at 5pm may be required and moved to after 8pm or swapped for a cold dinner or leftovers.
The NHS Confederation has predicted that the solution for the health service will ‘have to be made up by fewer staff being employed, longer waiting times for care, or other areas of patient care being cut back’. NHS England guidance says staff must turning off equipment and lights and better control temperatures in hospitals and surgeries.
Schools have even discussed three-day weeks and classes could be combined to reduce the number of rooms that require heating each day.
While care homes are being forced to take drastic action to absorb soaring living costs such as reducing menu options, using washing machines less and cutting down on entertainment and outdoor trips for elderly and vulnerable residents.
Pubs are already turning out the lights as soaring energy bills hit the ailing hospitality sector – with last orders at 8.30pm and closing by 9pm, food service being stopped and skeleton teams running venues to avoid financial ruin. Beer gardens are even being shut at night to save costs.
And councils may choose to copy Germany where street lights are being dimmed, traffic lights at quieter junctions are turned off, hot water and central heating is off in public buildings and monuments will no longer be lit overnight. UK municipal swimming pools could be made colder to reduce heating bills.
Millions could be forced to make sacrifices at home to avoid blackouts – but it could hit family life including delaying when they eat their dinner and swapping a hot meal for cold leftovers or a salad.
Kathryn Porter, from consultancy Watt-Logic, expects that authorities could ask consumers to reduce their use of electricity during peak hours, such as 2pm or 4pm to 8pm.
Parents and their children would be encouraged to eat later, or eat something that does not require cooking.
In Texas and California, tens of millions of people have been asked not to use washing machines, dishwashers and ovens between 2pm and 8pm because of the global energy crisis and reduce strain on power stations. Charging cars before 9pm is also not advised.
HOW BAD IS THE NHS CRISIS IN ENGLAND?
The overall waiting list jumped to 6.73million in June. This is up from 6.61m in May and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
There were 3,861 people waiting more than two years to start treatment at the end of June, down from 8,028 in May but still higher than April 2021, when the figure started to be recorded.
The number of people waiting more than a year to start hospital treatment was 355,774, up from 331,623 the previous month and the highest ever logged.
A record 29,317 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in July. The figure is up from 22,034 in June and is the highest for any month since record began in 2010.
A total of 136,221 people waited at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission in July, down slightly from the all-time high of 136,298 in March.
Just 71 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, the worst ever performance. NHS standards set out that 95 per cent should be admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour window.
The average category one response time – calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries – was nine minutes and 35 seconds. The target time is seven minutes.
Ambulances took an average of 59 minutes and seven seconds to respond to category two calls, such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is three times longer than the 18 minute target.
Response times for category three calls – such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns and diabetes – averaged three hours, 17 minutes and six seconds. Ambulances are supposed to arrive to these calls within two hours.
Some 430,037 patients (27.5 per cent) were waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic test in June, including an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.
Ms Porter said: ‘People could do their laundry, cook hot meals before or after the time period’, but added that Britons must not ‘avoid cooking a hot meal if you have young children or vulnerable people in your home’.
‘It is possible we will see something similar here this winter,’ she said, adding: ‘I think it would be more an appeal or request for people to have their dinner earlier or later, or avoid using large appliances like washing machines during peak hours. I think it would be voluntary rather than compulsory’.
A lack of wind could also come into play.
She said: ‘We have had quite low wind output in July and August…Demand is a lot higher in the winter, so if we have those weather conditions in the winter, our system is going to get very tight and that raises a risk of blackouts’.
Heavy industry users are also being braced to suspend or scale back production to protect supplies to homes.
Separately, contingency plans exist to dim the lights across parts of the country by turning down the voltage in the national cable grid in what are known as ‘brown outs’.
NHS treatment may also have to be rationed this winter because of ever-increasing energy bills, health bosses fear in the face of a mammoth backlog and crises in the A&E and ambulance sectors.
Startling projections reveal some trusts face spending twice, or even three times as much as they did last year on electricity and gas.
Trusts aren’t covered by Ofgem’s 80 per cent price cap on electricity and gas, and so are even more vulnerable to surging prices in the coming months. As a result, health chiefs have had to ring-fence £1.5billion to fund the soaring bills.
Rory Deighton, of the NHS Confederation — which represents the healthcare system across England, Wales and Northern Ireland — said: ‘This isn’t an abstract problem.’
He said the solution ‘will either have to be made up by fewer staff being employed, longer waiting times for care, or other areas of patient care being cut back’.
The same organisation previously warned health bosses will inevitably have to make ‘impossible choices’ over the coming months, unless the ‘perilous’ situation is solved with billions more the public purse.
New technologies are often the first area to be cut when purse-strings are tightened.
Diagnostic capacity will also be under threat, despite being a ‘key area’ in reducing the Covid-induced backlog that has left nearly 7million patients in England waiting for routine hospital treatment.
At the same time as soaring energy bills, critics have claimed that the NHS could see another £1.8billion ‘raided’ from its own budget simply to meet No10’s proposed pay rise for staff.
Department of Health bosses have rejected these fears, however.
Analysts predict the health service will need at least another £4billion to account for spiralling costs. As a result, NHS chiefs are demanding another emergency top-up in the coming autumn’s budget.
‘That (£4billion estimate) is before we face a winter of even higher wholesale energy prices,’ the NHS Confederation added.
Right-wing think-tanks have repeatedly described the NHS as being a ‘blackhole of taxpayer money’.
Their argument — that the health service is in dire need of reform, not extra cash — is that its budget has drastically increased under the Conservative Government yet performances have worsened.
Waiting times for routine ops, such as hip and knee replacements, shot up to record highs were way before Covid reached British shores. But the pandemic, and knock-on effects of lockdown, have seen queues hit an all-time high.
Ambulance response times have gone down the pan, so badly so that even heart attack patients have been left waiting three hours to be taken to hospital.
HM Treasury data shows the NHS received £100.4billion in 2010/11 and its budget had grown steadily until 2019. In 2020, the NHS was given £129.7billion of core funding for its usual services, which was topped up with an extra £18billion to help with the pressures from the pandemic. For 2021/22 the Treasury said the health service is set to receive £136.1billion pounds of core funding, as well as £3billion to help with the Covid recovery
A&E performance has also plunged to dire levels, with waiting times worse than ever. Campaigners have called the situation ‘apocalyptic’.
The NHS in England already gets £150billion a year, compared to roughly £100billion just a decade ago.
Under Boris Johnson, it was promised an extra £30billion a year through the highly-controversial levy to get ‘back on its feet’ after the pandemic.
But Liz Truss, the frontrunner to replace him as Prime Minister, has already pledged to divert all of that to social care, which is simultaneously being battered by its own crisis.
Libraries, community centres and art galleries could become ‘warm banks’ where Britons who can’t afford to heat their homes can shelter this winter
Libraries, community centres and art galleries could become ‘warm banks’ where Britons struggling to heat their homes amid soaring energy bills shelter this winter.
Birmingham, Bristol, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen are among the UK councils exploring the possibility of public spaces being made available for people unable to afford heating in their homes.
Birmingham, England’s biggest council serving 1.14 million people, has become the latest announcing measures either providing or sign-posting the hubs, by pledging to ‘map out spaces across the city where people can go to keep warm’.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, said while local authorities were doing ‘all they can’, ‘warm banks’ were ‘not alternatives’ to providing householders with ‘adequate resources’ to make heating their homes affordable.
This was backed by the charity Age UK, who said the ‘talk of warm banks shows how incredibly serious the challenge of keeping warm this winter looks set to be, especially for older people and anyone on a low income’.
Birmingham Library (pictured) could become a potential ‘warm bank’
Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said that while she welcomes any strategy being suggested to help older people amid the cost of living crisis, they should not be seen as a ‘substitute for effective government action’.
She said: ‘With prices continuing to sky-rocket, life is certainly not going to be easy for many older people over the next few months. Millions are already struggling to pay for basic items and with high inflation and energy prices soaring, many face a perilous winter.
‘Talk of warm banks shows how incredibly serious the challenge of keeping warm this winter looks set to be, especially for older people and anyone on a low income.
‘While we welcome any strategy being suggested to help older people withstand the cold, investing in existing infrastructure like day centres and lunch clubs, run by local Age UKs and others, and ensuring every older person can afford to heat their home, should be the top priorities in our view.
‘Warm banks may have a role to play this winter but they’re no substitute for effective Government action to help people manage their bills. That’s what we need to see, and quickly.’
The Government has said it will continue to ‘make sure that people have got the resources to heat their own home’.
The Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland
Asked about plans for so-called ‘warm banks’ in libraries, community centres and art galleries, DCMS minister Matt Warman told LBC Radio: ‘Those are initiatives put forward by local councils that are for them.
‘What the Government has to do and has done up to this point and will continue to do in the future is make sure that people have got the resources to heat their own homes.
‘Those initiatives that are put forward, I think, will be welcome to some people. Of course they will be. But what the Government is doing and will continue to do is focusing on giving people the resources they need in their own homes, rather than having to leave them.’
He added: ‘Welcome though these initiatives might be for some people, they’re not going to be the only option. They shouldn’t be the only option… I’m confident that the package of help that’s there and the package of help… (from the next prime minister) will make real progress in that regard.’
Other councils including Southend, in Essex, Sheffield, in Yorkshire, and several in Nottinghamshire have already started mulling similar plans for either setting up, supporting or highlighting the locations of ‘warm banks’.
Although the idea of such spaces is not new, their existence was brought to a wider audience by consumer rights campaigner Martin Lewis, earlier this year.
In a tweet to to his 1.7 million followers in July, he said: ‘Can’t believe I’m writing this, but I wonder if this winter well need ‘warm banks’ the equivalent of ‘food banks’ where people who can’t afford heating are invited to spend their days at no cost with heating (eg libraries, public buildings)?’
Replying to Mr Lewis’s tweet, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said the city was ‘actively organising a city-wide network of warm places – we call them ‘Welcoming Places’ – for Bristol’.
Since then, it has also emerged councils across Scotland including Glasgow and Aberdeen have been considering setting up ‘warm banks’ by opening up public buildings, as first reported in the Daily Record.
Meanwhile in Birmingham, Cllr John Cotton, cabinet member at the Labour-run local authority, said: ‘Keeping warm will be a huge challenge for so many people, with the price of using domestic heating spiralling.
‘We are going to work with partners to map out spaces across the city where people can go to keep warm.
‘Whether that’s local community centres, places of worship or libraries, we want to help people to find places where they will be welcomed, free of charge.’
He added: ‘It should not be the case that people cannot afford to keep their homes warm, but that is the reality that we are facing here in Birmingham.’
The Ofgem price cap will rise from £1,971 now to £3,549 from October 2022, it confirmed today. And experts at energy consultancy Auxilione now think the cap will rise by another 52 per cent to £5,405 in January 2023, then by a further 34 per cent to £7,263 in April – before falling slightly, by 11 per cent to £6,485 in July and by another 7 per cent to £6,006 in October.
Cllr Andrew Western, chair of the LGA’s resources board, said: ‘Councils and local partners will continue to do all they can to protect those on the lowest incomes against the rising costs of fuel, food, transport and other essentials.
‘As we enter the forthcoming winter months, councils are taking practical steps to support people in their community who need it the most.
‘These include the development of warm hubs in some areas as well other important initiatives that are aimed at both addressing immediate hardship and building longer-term financial resilience and wellbeing.’
He added: ‘Although councils are doing all they can to help residents, these schemes are not alternatives to ensuring people can afford to heat their homes through the winter months.
‘The mainstream welfare system should ensure people have sufficient means to meet true living costs and councils and local partners need adequate resources to provide targeted and effective crisis support alongside services which increase opportunity and lift people out of poverty for good.’
Chief executive of Shell Ben van Beurden (picturd) in 2015. Mr van Beruden told reporters on Monday that he thought the energy fuel crisis will not be limited to ‘just one winter’
With the energy crisis worsening, the boss of Shell has said he does not think it will be limited to ‘just one winter’ and warned fuel could be rationed ‘for years’.
Ben van Beurden, chief executive of the energy giant, said he expected there to be ‘a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions’ as a result of the cuts to Russian supplies.
Speaking at a press conference in Norway on Monday, he said: ‘I do not think this crisis is going to be limited to just one winter.’
He also warned it ‘may well be that we have a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions through efficiency savings, through rationing and through a very quick build-out of alternatives.’
Giving a bleak forecast, Mr van Beurden told reporters: ‘That this is going to somehow be easy, or over, is a fantasy we should put aside’.
Last week, regulator Ofgem announced it was raising the energy price cap by 80 per cent in October, taking the average household’s gas and electricity bill to £3,549 per year.
Monthly energy costs will see some households spending £500 a month on bills according to Uswitch
Bills are predicted to rise again to £5,400 in January and even further to £6,600 in spring according to forecasts from energy analysts Cornwall Insight.
Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley warned of the hardship energy prices will cause this winter and urged the incoming prime minister and new Cabinet ‘to provide an additional and urgent response to continued surging energy prices’.
He also said that the gas price this winter was 15 times more than the cost two years ago.
The regulator said the increase reflected the continued rise in global wholesale gas prices, which began to surge as the pandemic eased, and had been driven still higher by Russia slowly switching off gas supplies to Europe.
Ofgem also warned that energy prices could get ‘significantly worse’ next year. The regulator said that some suppliers might start increasing the amount that direct debit customers pay before October 1, to spread out payments, but any money taken by suppliers will only ever be spent on supplying energy to households.
The rise of the energy price cap has led campaigners to warn that millions of people could face fuel poverty unless the Government gives more support with energy bills.
It has also led to the emergence of the Don’t Pay UK campaign, a grassroot movement launched in summer 2022, which is aiming to get one million people to stop their energy direct debit from October.
Activists protest against rising energy bills on August 26. The protest took place outside Ofgem’s headquarters in London
However, Andy Burnham said on Tuesday that he does not support a movement calling on consumers to withhold payment for energy bills in protest against the rising cost of living.
The Greater Manchester Mayor told Sky News he understood why people were joining Don’t Pay UK but that ‘we have to live within the rule of law’.
‘At this stage it’s definitely a step I wouldn’t support. We’ve got to live within the rule of law. We’ve got to keep a country where people respect the rules and the way of doing things.
‘I understand why people are saying it but I wouldn’t in any way recommend that that’s the way people should go.
‘What we need is action to make things affordable for people, but I do feel that that kind of call will increase unless we see the scale of action that is going to be needed.’
The cost of living crisis has also been the focus of the Tory leadership contest, with both candidates making pledges to help struggling Britons.
Ms Truss has pledged to slash National Insurance and cut green levies on energy bills if she becomes prime minister, while she has also hinted at further support for hard-pressed Britons.
As well as her plan to introduce emergency measures to help families with soaring gas and electricity bills this winter, Ms Truss is also due to use her first days in office to approve a series of new oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea.
In a bid to bolster the UK’s energy security, as many as 130 licences could be issued after recent meetings between ministers and oil and gas companies.
Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has also vowed to spend billions more to support Britons through the cost-of-living crisis – if he becomes prime minister – as he acknowledged a ‘moral responsibility’ to offer extra help.
Ms Truss or Mr Sunak will be named as Tory leader on September 5 and the winner is expected to become prime minister the next day.
Meanwhile, working from home could lead to household energy bills being stretched by an extra £2,500 each year, a new survey has revealed.
Experts suggest home workers will flock back to the office this winter to avoid the severe energy bills.
The average British worker is heading into the office one and a half days per week, meaning remote working will likely lead to an energy bill of £789 in January, compared to £580 for those going into work.
Sarah Coles, of stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, described the ‘horrible scale’ of the energy price increase.
‘Even for those who consider themselves to be comfortable, this is a serious enough crisis that they’re going to need to find new solutions,’ she said.
‘People may have to reconsider how they use their heating, so instead of leaving it on all day they focus on trying to retain as much heat as possible in the rooms they’re using, through things like more drought-proofing.’