UK households will be forced to spend an average of £10,000 on energy bills during the lifetime of this five-year parliament, new analysis has revealed.
Labour said its analysis of official figures and forecasts showed families will shell out an average of £2,000 a year on energy costs in the period between 2019 and 2024.
Sir Keir Starmer’s party said the amount spent on gas and electricity bills in the period was almost £3,000 more than over three terms of the Labour government of 1997 to 2010 – when costs over 13 years totalled £7,400 per household.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves pointed to “sticking plaster” policies from the Tory government for the huge rise in energy bills in recent years – and further hikes to come.
She accused the Tories of a lack of long-term energy planning, failure to invest in renewables or nuclear power, and poor regulation of the energy market which has left Britain exposed to the global energy crisis.
“Who has a spare £10,000 during this Tory cost of living crisis? The Conservatives have steered the British economy into a recession that working people are going to be left to pick up the bill alone,” said Ms Reeves.
The shadow chancellor added: “What Britain needs is a government that moves beyond sticking plasters, and brings in a proper long-term plan for energy security and for economic growth. Labour’s mission is to get to clean power by 2030, and our plans to build stronger, fairer, growing economy will bring that.”
Pointing to figures from and forecasts by the Resolution Foundation, Labour said the £10,000 set to be spent on energy bills per household during the five-year parliament is £4,000 more than the average household spent in the previous five years (£6,000).
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in his autumn statement that from April 2023, the government’s energy price guarantee will be raised – so bills are set to rise from £2,500 to £3,000 for “typical” consumption.
Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak’s government promised to help businesses with their energy bills, but significantly reduced the amount of support they will get.
It will deliver billions of pounds of support to companies over the 12 months from the start of April, however it is considerably less generous than the support they currently get. The current scheme is set to about £18bn over just six months, compared with £5.5bn over a whole year for the new plan.
It comes as it emerged an estimated 3.2 million people in the UK ran out of credit on their prepayment meter last year because they could not afford to top it up.
Citizens Advice said more than two million people were being disconnected at least once a month and 19 per cent of those cut off in the past year then spent at least 24 hours without gas or electricity – leaving them unable to turn the heating on or cook a hot meal.
Based on Ofgem figures, Citizens Advice estimated that 600,000 people were forced onto a prepayment meter because they could not afford their energy bills in 2022.
The charity is now calling for a total ban on forced prepayment meter installations until new protections are introduced, ensuring households can no longer be fully cut off from gas and electricity.
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “All too often the people finding it hardest to pay their bills are being forced onto a prepayment meter they can’t afford to top up. New protections are needed to stop people being fully cut off from gas and electricity.”
A government spokesperson said: “The government expects energy suppliers to do all they can to help customers who are struggling to pay their bills and suppliers can only install prepayment meters without consent to recover debt as a last resort.
“The regulator Ofgem requires energy suppliers to offer solutions for customers in, or at risk of, debt or disconnection. This includes offering emergency credit to all prepayment meter customers and additional support credit to customers in vulnerable circumstances.”
It comes as British Gas owner Centrica revealed it is on course for bumper profits. The energy giant has predicted an eightfold increase in full-year profits, with earnings of 30p per share.