The energy crisis is “an emergency of pandemic-scale”, according to a leading union body.
The Trades Union Congress has today warned that energy bills will cost more than two months pay if nothing is done. Average take-home pay after tax is expected to be £2,054 per month, while annual energy bills are predicted to cost £4,200 on average.
The union body is calling for emergency funding support along with a longer-term plan to prevent similar future crises.
It has requested that the government bring trade union and business leaders into the Treasury to devise an urgent response to the crisis together – in an approach that mirrors the start of the pandemic, which lead to the creation of the furlough scheme.
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Halting the energy price cap increase by having the government pay the difference in full (an estimated £38.5bn), increasing the minimum wage, universal credit and state pension rates in line with inflation, and funding significant pay rises in the public sector are among the TUC’s other recommendations.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No one should struggle to get by in one of the richest countries in the world.”
“Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak need to wake up to the size of this crisis. This requires a pandemic-scale intervention. Ministers must cancel the catastrophic rise to energy bills this autumn. And to make sure energy remains affordable to everyone, they should bring the energy retail companies into public ownership.”
Money saving expert Martin Lewis has also compared this crisis to the pandemic, saying that the government must act with the same haste. He warns that “the government alone” can help by “putting money in people’s pockets”
Already more than a decade into the toughest squeeze on wages for 200 years, this crisis has hit the UK at a time where many families were losing hope.
The union body claims that the wage crisis has been “compounded by the shock to energy prices.” Instead of investing in energy efficiency and renewable power sources, a privatised energy market creamed off excess profits while leaving us all vulnerable to unstable global markets, the TUC claims.
The energy crisis has been a key topic in the leadership race between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Truss, who initially said she would focus on tax-cuts and not financial ‘hand-outs’ to help those in need, has recently appeared to flip-flop and now claims she is “not ruling it out”. Sunak has offered a one-off payment of £650 to households struggling with the crisis.