Energy Crisis – 18 August 2022


Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief executive, has now publicly voiced fears his company had been talking about privately as he spoke of the need for government action on fuel bills.

They know the price hikes that are coming and can see the crisis looming. They’ll face non-payment of bills but there’ll be a much wider manifestation of societal discontent that’ll affect us all.

At least Keir Starmer has broken cover from his summer hideaway. There are issues with what he proposes as he fails to address the crisis that will hit public services, never mind private businesses. How can councils keep community centres open or even Police Scotland have officers on the beat if fuel costs are eating up all their budget? What will happen to care home costs and who’ll be able to meet the bill or take over their operation if some fold?

There’s also insufficient support for the many, whilst too much for the few, as it’s now impossible to separate energy from the wider cost-of-living crisis. But at least it’s a plan of action.

Indeed, whilst there’s aspects I disagree with it’s better than simply calling for a recall of parliament. That really is a cry of despair from Ian Blackford, does he expect more success with pleas for energy support than he had on Brexit?

What’s needed is action by government and now. Johnson has a point about major decisions needing to be signed off by the incoming PM but his almost complete absence of any interest’s just appalling.

Some major decisions will require to wait but there’s nothing to stop immediate, short-term steps being taken or ideas being run by the two candidates. VAT could be reduced to zero for, say, six months, providing respite for the public and allowing for time for consideration by the new premier.

Actions such as directing Ofgem to end pre-payment meter additional charges and regulating other fuels to allow for a cap could surely be put to Truss and Sunak? Are they really going to say no?

Most importantly, the support should be increased, whether by doubling what’s been done already or, preferably, by better targeting it to those in most need. All that’s possible and must be done.

Johnson should listen to Keith Anderson and get on with those interim, immediate steps.