Martin Lewis has been praised by viewers for challenging Chancellor Rishi Sunak about supporting measures the UK Government has announced to help millions of households across the country cope with the “sickening” rise in energy prices coming in April.
In a special energy edition of The Martin Lewis Money Show Live on ITV, the financial guru interviewed the Chancellor after Ofgem announced a 54 per cent rise in energy bills for 22 million customers across the UK, resulting in an annual increase of £693 to £ 1,791 for the average user.
Martin opened the show by telling viewers: “Energy bills will rise a sickening 54 per cent in April, you’ll pay half again on top of what you pay now – on average £700 more a year.”
He continued: “I’ve got the Chancellor on the show to dissect piece-by-piece how his plans to ease the pain really stack up.”
Energy price cap support
On Thursday, Rishi Sunak addressed Parliament and announced a £200 bill-credit loan for all domestic electricity customers, including those using a pre-payment meter, in Scotland, England and Wales which will automatically be added to their bills in October.
Energy customers will repay £40 per year from April 2023 for the next five years.
Eligible energy customers receiving the Warm Home Discount will get an extra £10 on top of the £140 which is automatically credited to their electricity account from their supplier.
And for households in England on Council Tax bands A to D, they will receive a non-repayable £150 discount off their annual bills.
There will also be a discretionary fund of £144million available to those in England who don’t receive the Council Tax discount, which the Chancellor confirmed was introduced after liaising with the financial guru on.
A total of £290 million of funding is expected to come to the Scottish Government from the UK Treasury to offset the huge rise in energy bills, but as the Chancellor has no oversight of local government funding in Scotland a lump sum, based on the Barnett Formula, will be added to the Scottish Government block grant.
Mr Sunak confirmed that the funding going to Scotland would be £290 million and that the Treasury would be in talks with Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
Martin began the interview by listing all the financial changes that will put the squeeze on household finances and contributing to the cost of living crisis.
He told the Chancellor: “We have the price cap going up by £700 a year in April, and let’s be honest it’s probably going to go up higher than that in October, we have a national Insurance rise coming, we have a rise in Council Tax, for those who are on variable rate mortgages, they’re seeing a £150 a year per £100,000 of mortgage increase, we have the freezing of the personal allowance on tax, there is a massive crunch on the cost of living which , for a typical house is going to cost at least £1,000 a year.”
He continued: “You are putting out there £350 of which £200 is a loan, when I asked people what they wanted me to ask you, what they said was, ask him ‘why the hell he’s not giving us more’.”
Martin asked him bluntly: “Why the hell aren’t you giving them more?”
Mr Sunak replied: “I totally appreciate that and there is a lot happening at once and that’s why we’ve taken the actions that we have which I think will make a significant difference.”
However, the financial journalist challenged the support measures and warned many households will be thrown into fuel poverty.
He said: “I think what you’ve done today will forest for many the choice between heating and eating, but not for all.
“I would just ask you to be open-minded and to keep research going and when we look at the people who are in desperation, there may be more help needed as we get through into the winter period especially.”
The Chancellor responded: “I’m always keeping everything under review, I am open-minded and I always try and listen.”
Martin then said: “I’ve been warning about this since last June – it’s not an exaggeration to say some will have to choose between whether they freeze or whether they starve. We have seen foodbank usage go up.
“Do you believe that we are in a position in this country where no-one will have to make a choice between freezing and starving?”
Mr Sunak replied: “We have a range of measures in place to help those who most need our help.
“People can judge me and the [UK] Government by our track record over the past year or two and all the facts and figures show that those actually in the most vulnerable situations or the lowest incomes got the most support from government and we made a big difference to their lives.”
Later on in the episode, a viewer asked whether people will have the option to refuse the £200 loan and not take on the debt, to which Mr Sunak said it will be automatically applied to all energy accounts.
He said: “The whole process will take a lot longer so we’ve done it universally and automatically. You shouldn’t view it as debt, it’s £200 off your bill, there’s no interest charged on that, the £200 you’ve got you put that aside and probably make a little bit of money and get the £40 back in just over five years.”
After the interview, Martin said: “The Chancellor is gambling that energy prices will start to come down in a year’s time as this scheme will add another £40 a year onto people’s bills. If they don’t, well, adding another £40 , it’s unthinkable.”
People who watched the live show helped make it the number one trending topic on Twitter with countless users praising the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com for his continuous efforts and important work on behalf of the public.
One user tweeted: “We are so lucky to have a financial journal like @MartinSLewis in our country.”
Another said: “Wish that segment with the chancellor could have been longer. Brilliant, clear, really helpful programme, thank you.”
Another added: “Wish all in Govt were questioned and held to account as well as @RishiSunak was by you tonight.”
While one user urged ITV to give the show a longer times slot by tweeting: “You make all of this so much easier to understand, if ever in doubt…listen to Martin! I just wish @ITV would give your show longer than half an hour when its on something as important as tonight’s and affects millions!”
You can watch the full interview with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Martin’s overview of the energy price cap announcement on The Money Show Live on the STV Player.
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