Boris Johnson has been mocked for suggesting that Britons could ease their energy bill woes by buying a new £20 kettle to save £10 a year on their electricity.
The prime minister suggested the efficiency measure amid growing pressure for more cash support for families facing energy bills of more than £3,500 when the price cap rises in October.
Speaking in Suffolk, Mr Johnson said: “If you have an old kettle which takes ages to boil, it may cost you £20 to replace it – but if you get a new one, you’ll save £10 a year every year on your electricity bill.”
Among those ridiculing the PM’s suggestion in face of an overwhelming crisis, Labour’s shadow business minister Bill Esterson said: “Is he seriously out of touch, or is it that he just doesn’t care, or both?”
Mr Johnson said further help was up to his successor. But he said he was confident the next PM – whether Tory leadership favourite Liz Truss or underdog Rishi Sunak – would offer more “cash” support.
“Of course there will be more cash to come, whoever takes over from me, in the months ahead – substantial sums, that’s absolutely clear,” he said.
Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss – strong favourite to be take power at No 10 on Tuesday – has yet to commit to any further direct payments on the cost of living crisis.
Asked whether he had spoken to either Ms Truss or Mr Sunak about plans, the caretaker PM avoided a direct answer – but said it was “clear that come the new administration, there is going to be a further package”.
Mr Sunak has repeatedly promised to extend his earlier support package with an additional £5bn in support for pensioners and the poorest households through the benefits system.
While Ms Truss has spoken out against “handouts”, she today told The Sun she would be “robust” in offering immediate help with unaffordable bills, and is believed at looking at further direct payments for the most vulnerable.
Earlier on Thursday, chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said he is “deeply concerned” some Britons could freeze this winter if they are cannot afford to pay their bills. He said he hoped “nobody should be cut off this winter”.
Mr Zahawi admitted the current support package to help people cope was “not enough” – but claimed “more help is coming” when the PM’s successor is in place at No 10.
‘No one should be cut off’ if they can’t afford energy bills, says chancellor
It comes former minister Michael Gove – a Sunak backer – has urged Ms Truss to consider rationing of energy for businesses this winter.
Ms Truss ruled out any form of rationing at last night’s final Tory hustings event. But Mr Gove said the UK may have follow some European countries in limiting use by major users.
“It may be the case that in certain non-domestic settings, that there needs to be some form of restraint in the way that energy is used,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – though he said he did not think household rationing would be necessary.
Mr Sunak told Tory members “we shouldn’t rule anything out” when asked about energy rationing this winter. “Many European countries are looking at how we can all optimise our energy usage, that is a sensible thing for us to be doing as a country.”
Asked by host Nick Ferrari whether she could rule out energy rationing, Ms Truss replied: “I do rule that out. Yes.”
Dozens of charities on the front line dealing with a “tsunami of need” caused by the cost-of-living crisis have called on the government to provide more urgent financial support to vulnerable households.
An open letter signed by 48 bosses across the voluntary sector said an “economic crisis of a magnitude not experienced for decades” will push many who have managed to make ends meet into poverty.
Mr Johnson, meanwhile, said he is ready to “get on with life” after stepping down at No 10. He insisted he will give his “full and unqualified” support to his successor after handing over the keys, but did not give any more details about his future plans.