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Urgent support package needed to help households cope with soaring energy bills, expert warns

AN URGENT package of support to help households cope with soaring energy bills should be thrashed out, a consumer rights expert warned today.

Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the two rivals competing to succeed him that decisions must not be delayed until the conclusion of the Tory leadership contest because households will start receiving increased bills before then ahead of the energy price cap rising to £3,500 or more in October.

He dismissed the extra help promised by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss during their leadership bids as “trivial” in the face of bills which are set to be £2,300 a year higher than they were last October.

In a speech in Birmingham, Mr Johnson said that while he “knows” the pressures people are facing, “my argument to you would be that sometimes you’ve got to go through periods of difficulty and you’ve got to remember that they are just inevitable.”

But Mr Lewis said that the scale of problems facing households was something he had never seen before.

“It’s going to throw many households into a terribly difficult financial situation that will leave them making some awful choices,” BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The wholesale price data that informs the price cap suggests that it will increase at least 77 per cent on top of the 52 per cent rise in April, taking the typical bill to £3,500 a year.

He said that the choice facing the government is “you either have to cut prices for people or you have to put more money in their pockets, especially at the poorest level.”

“The problem is we have this zombie government at the moment that can’t make any big decisions,” Mr Lewis said.

Major policy decisions have been postponed until the new prime minister takes office, with the Tory leadership contest scheduled to conclude on September 5.

Ms Truss has promised to remove green levies from bills to bring the cost down, while Mr Sunak has pledged to temporarily exempt energy costs from VAT.

But Mr Lewis said: “We need political will to get this done. I’m afraid green levies and cutting VAT, they are trivial in the big picture of this.”

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