• Thursday, December 08, 2022

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Zahawi ‘deeply concerned’ people could freeze this winter

The average energy bills are set to rocket to £3,549 a year from October.

Britains Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi participates in a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the Treasury Department in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

British Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said that he is ‘deeply concerned’ that people could freeze this winter, media reports said.

He revealed that the Treasury has been finalising plans to extend support to people to help pay their energy bills.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss, the frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister, said she would act immediately to help people cope with surging energy prices that threaten to leave many unable to heat their homes this winter.

Her challenger Rishi Sunak said that he couldn’t rule anything out on energy rationing if he becomes the prime minister. Zahawi is backing Truss for the Tory leadership.

The average energy bills are set to rocket to £3,549 a year from October and even higher in 2023.

According to reports, Zahawi has been putting together different options for the incoming premier.

Zahawi said he was working on support options for both households, particularly the most vulnerable, as well as businesses, ready for when Boris Johnson’s successor as prime minister is announced on Sept. 5.

“We know we need to do more because actually the most vulnerable households have no cushion,” Zahawi said. “More help is on its way … I am doing the work to make sure that will be in place throughout next year.”

Zahawi said Russian President Vladimir Putin was using energy as a weapon and would continue to do so, so Britain needed to remain resilient for the long term and make sure any help was not just a sticking plaster.

The chancellor admitted that there are ‘no easy options’ to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but assured that ‘no one should be cut off’ if they can’t afford heating bills.

“Everything from the chief executive of Scottish Power talking about help where we need to maybe create some sort of a fund for companies to be able to continue to help their customers,” Zahawi said.

“All the way through to making sure we target the help to both households and small and medium-size businesses and probably some larger businesses.”

The minister added: “I’m working with the companies to make sure, and NGOs of course, to make sure those people who really are struggling get that help both financially… but the companies themselves have already started to write letters and emails to ask people if they are vulnerable, if they are feeling that they can’t pay, that they should contact their supplier, their companies.”

Zahawi visited the US on Wednesday (31) for talks on how to deal with the global energy crisis, which has been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the visit, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Zahawi discussed efforts toward a price cap on Russian oil to cut global energy prices and restrict Russia’s revenue.

They also discussed supporting Ukraine’s economic assistance needs arising from Russia’s invasion.

Eastern Eye

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