Energy price cap rise: Government accused of ‘dereliction of duty’ as ministers dodge interviews

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the the Commonwealth Business Forum at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.
Boris Johnson's government put no one up for morning media rounds. (PA) (PA)

Boris Johnson's government has been accused of a "dereliction of duty" as ministers dodged interviews on the day Ofgem confirmed the energy price cap will rise by 80%.

No government minister was put forward for the daily media round to answer questions as the news came in that the average household’s yearly bill will soar from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.

The morning media round would usually see a representative from the government grilled on government policy.

Labour's Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, took part in morning broadcast interviews this morning on behalf of the opposition.

BBC Breakfast said it had spoken to the government to provide a minister to interview but was told no one was “available”.

BBC 4's Today Programme also said on air that “no UK government ministers have been available for interview this morning by us or by other breakfast news programmes”.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi later recorded an interview with Sky News after the criticism over the government's failure to comment on the spiralling crisis.

Read more: Ofgem to be sued over 'failures' with energy price cap to spike by 80 per cent

(Yahoo News UK)
Enerby bills are set to rise again. (Yahoo News UK)

Labour MP Angela Eagle said it was a "total dereliction of duty" for the government to not put a spokesperson forward with energy bills set to rise to never-before-seen levels.

Her colleague Bill Esterson tweeted: "There is an emergency. Energy prices are going up another 80%. No government ministers will appear on the media.

"Does anyone think this government should stay in office a moment longer?".

Johnson has faced accusations of running a "zombie government" over his final weeks as PM as he enjoyed two foreign holidays in August.

The PM has a little over a week until he is replaced by either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, who are each facing calls to lay out in detail what they will do to combat the crisis.

Read more: The 88 areas where people will spend more than a fifth of take home pay on energy bills

File photo dated 21/07/22 of undated file photos of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss who have made it through to the final two in the Tory leadership race. Liz Truss will plunge the economy into an
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are battling it out to become the next prime minister. (PA) (PA)

Truss, who is currently the front-runner in the contest, said she will “ensure people get the support needed”, to get people "through these tough times" but did not offer specifics.

Sunak has promised to cut VAT on household energy bills, which would only save a typical household £51 between October and December - far below the cost of the rise - and cost the government around £1 billion.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has said a movement to refuse to pay energy bills is “growing”, as he called on the next prime minister to spend billions to solve the crisis.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain he said: "I’ve been accused of catastrophising this situation, and the reason I’ve done that is because this is a genuine, social and financial catastrophe that is putting lives at risk. It should have been done far earlier.

“I hope and I pray, whomever our new prime minister is, they have the will to do something because if they don’t, people will die this winter due to these energy price hikes.”

Johnson said the government will announce “extra cash” in September to support households.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre in Surrey, he said: “Of course, we could see this coming (energy bills rising) and that’s why we’ve put the steps in place that we already have.

“And don’t forget that, although there will be more announcements next month, more cash coming from September onwards, you shouldn’t forget that the pipeline of cash stretches out throughout the autumn.