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Minister laments ‘tricky’ energy bills rise on same day as MPs’ pay increases

Energy prices have rocketed as the price cap increased (PA)
Energy prices have rocketed as the price cap increased (PA)

A Government minister who is paid £115,824 has said the cost-of-living rise will be “tricky” for his household, on the same day he is set to receive a pay rise of £2,212.

MPs’ salaries rise to £84,144 on Friday, up by 2.7%, after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) – which sets MPs’ pay – announced last month that salaries would go up for the first time in two years.

Richard Lloyd, Ipsa’s chair, said it was “right” that MPs are “paid fairly”, particularly with their work “dramatically” increasing in the past 12 months.

But it comes on the same day that the biggest jump in domestic energy bills in living memory has come into effect, and days before national insurance contributions will increase by 1.25 percentage points.

Speaking on Sky News, policing minister Kit Malthouse acknowledged it will be “very tough”.

He said: “We completely acknowledge that a combination of factors has meant that prices are rising significantly, energy prices in particular, driven by a variety of factors – post-pandemic, the war in Ukraine, other kinds of global factors outside of our immediate control – and it is tough.

“For those of us who have a smart meter, as we do here in my house, we can see how much it is costing us on an hourly basis, and it is not happy reading.”

Mr Malthouse, who as a minister of state earns an extra £31,680, bringing his total pay to £115,824, said his household is facing a “tricky” time.

Conducting broadcast interviews with a fire on in the background, the minister told LBC: “Obviously the day-to-day is quite tricky.

Cost of living crisis
The biggest jump in domestic energy bills in living memory has come into effect (Jacob King/PA)

“As you know, I’ve got children. They need to be fed and that cost is rising.

“My fuel prices are rising quite significantly, and I have to say that in my constituency I’m on oil central heating still, sadly.”

The Conservative MP for North West Hampshire continued: “Oil, I’m afraid to tell you, doesn’t come under the energy price cap, and lots of people in rural areas are suffering from the oil price rise.

“So we are feeling it very significantly. I have to confess to you, we did convert last year to electric vehicles, so we are feeling the electric price but not through the petrol. So it is a challenge for everybody.”

Crime and policing minister Mr Malthouse said he had attempted to log on to his energy provider’s app on Thursday as millions tried to give meter readings before the price rise came into effect, but found it “wasn’t working either”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said people do not “want a revolution” – they want to be able to afford food and their energy bills.

Memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said people are worried about how to pay their increasing bills (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Speaking to Sky News, he said the Government does not get “the scale of the problem for millions and millions of people”.

He added: “People don’t want a revolution. They do want to know ‘how am I going to pay my energy bill which has just gone up today by hundreds of pounds’.

“I was in Stevenage last week talking to pensioners. They weren’t saying ‘Keir, we want the revolution’. They were saying ‘Keir, we’re really worried about our bills’.

“For people to make a choice between heating and eating – in 21st century Britain what people want to know is, is the Labour Party, does it understand those worries? The answer is yes, we do.”

He branded the Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis as “pathetic” and said its decision to hike national insurance rates is “the wrong tax at the wrong time”.

Mr Malthouse said there is hope that inflation will “recede shortly” and Chancellor Rishi Sunak is studying the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

He told BBC Breakfast the “quite significant” 54% increase to Ofgem’s energy price cap had presented an “extremely tough” situation “against a background of inflation and to see these rises in day-to-day living costs”.

Mr Malthouse said Mr Sunak had “moved quite extensively to try and help”, adding: “I can’t pretend to you it isn’t tough.

“It is going to be, as we see this inflation in fuel prices spike at the moment – hopefully receding shortly – it is going to be hard, and we’re all going to have to work together to get through it.

“I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is looking very closely on almost a daily basis at the impact it is having on individuals and their families, and across the economy, and trying to balance the assistance we give, within the financial constraints we’ve got – with an economy, don’t forget, having just come out of a pandemic, having spent 400-odd billion pounds keeping people going through two extremely tough years.”

When it was put to him that the Chancellor did not do enough to help the public in the spring statement, Mr Malthouse replied: “He has moved twice now to bring in assistance.”

Charities have warned that 2.5 million more households are set to fall into “fuel stress” as the 54% increase hits bills.

The Resolution Foundation think tank said the number of English households in fuel stress – those spending at least 10% of their total budgets on energy bills – was set to double overnight from 2.5 to five million.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “The energy price cap rise will be potentially ruinous for millions of people across the country.

“The support announced so far from the Government simply isn’t enough for those who’ll be hit hardest. With the long-anticipated price rises now hitting, many more people will face the kind of heart-rending choices that our frontline advisers already see all too often.”

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