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Social Justice

‘What a load of bull’: Martin Lewis rubbishes claims government can’t act on energy bills crisis

The Money Saving Expert said the country is facing a crisis “on the scale of the pandemic” and explained what the government can do to support families.

Martin Lewis has hit out at the government and Tory leadership candidates for failing to tackle soaring energy costs with the country facing a crisis “on the scale of the pandemic”.

This week Gordon Brown launched a Big Issue-backed campaign calling on the government to take urgent action to prevent a “poverty time bomb”. But his demands for an emergency budget and for a Cobra meeting to be called were dismissed by Boris Johnson, whose spokesperson said the problems were “for a future prime minister”.

Referencing the snub during an interview on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, host Charlotte Hawkins said to Lewis: “The government seem to be adamant that nothing can happen until the new prime minster comes in, that decisions can’t be made until September 5.”

The Money Saving Expert wasn’t having it, and explained what can be done right now to support struggling households.

He replied: “What a load of bull. That’s complete bull. I won’t use the final word on the back of it. That is just simply not true.

“Let’s be very plain. In May when the government was facing political problems due to Boris Johnson, they were planning to make announcements on energy in July and August. That was brought forward in May and the mechanism for bringing it forward in May was they asked Ofgem to publish forward guidance on what the price cap would be and they were therefore able to crystallise what was happening and they made the announcements of the up to £1,200 available for the poorest homes.

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“There is absolutely nothing stopping the government doing that now.”

Not stopping there, Lewis continued: “The fact that there is internecine warfare between two candidates to lead that party does not stop the government doing anything. Those two candidates could make an agreement of what is going to happen. The idea that they can’t do anything is wrong. They are not willing to do anything, they are not willing to work together in what we have right now is a national crisis coming on the scale of the pandemic.

“This is absolutely catastrophic, and for a government to sit there like zombies saying: ‘We can’t do anything’… Well when you run an organisation which I have done and many other people have done, when you know there is a crisis of magnificent proportions coming you do not say: ‘Oh well just have to wait until we’ve got a change in our leadership’. You start dealing with it now.”

Brown’s campaign is gathering momentum. Just two days after it launched, almost 50,000 people have signed a petition on the 38 Degrees site calling for an emergency budget.

It comes as annual energy bills are forecast to hit an unthinkable £4,200 in January – more than triple the £1,300 price cap figure from earlier this year.

Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have been getting grilled about the crisis on the campaign trail this week.

Truss now says she’ll “look at the situation” when it comes to deciding on a support package – softening her stance after weeks of insisting the solution was tax cuts and not cash payments.

Sunak has been more direct, saying he’ll give people “hundreds of pounds” in a similar style package to the one he delivered as chancellor earlier this year.

But their pledges, or lack of them, have been criticised by anti-poverty campaigners, who say the pair “do not grasp the seriousness of the cost of living crisis”.

Read the Big Issue’s cover interview with Martin Lewis here

And here’s our Summer Survival Guide, which is updated regularly with new articles and tips on how to navigate the cost of living crisis

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