Cost of living news – live: Energy price cap rises to record level as support bill soars

The energy price cap has increased to record levels hiking the cost the government will pay to cover energy bills support.

Ofgem has increased the price cap to 67p per unit for electricity and 17p for gas from January.

The decision will not impact the amount households pay for their energy because the government has said electricity will cost 34p per unit and gas will be 10.3p until April.

Without the government support the average household would be paying around £4,279 for its energy under the new cap. The support will ensure that average households pay £2,500.

Experts at energy consultancy Auxilione estimate the new cap will cost the government around £15.1 bn to subsidise household bills between January and March.

It is set to add to the massive strain faced by the public purse in coming months due to soaring gas prices.

Key Points

  • Energy price cap rises to record level as support bill soars

  • Tens of thousands of homes ‘unsafe,’ Michael Gove says

  • Jeremy Hunt urges Britons to slash energy use to stop Putin’s ‘blackmail’

  • Dominic Raab faces coordinated bullying complaints from a dozen ex-staffers, report says

  • Raab reportedly facing fresh bullying complaints from ‘raft’ of civil servants

Migration figures highlight government’s ‘neglect and mismanagement’ of asylum system

11:54 , Thomas Kingsley

Commenting on the quarterly immigration statistics released this morning by the government, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:

“These statistics underline yet again the government’s neglect and mismanagement of the asylum system due to a failure to invest in creating an orderly, efficient and effective system.

“The number of men, women and children now living in limbo has risen by 20,000 in just three months, meaning 143,000 are now waiting for an initial decision on their case with just under 98,000 waiting more than six months.

“Given the number of asylum applications which are agreed is at its highest level for 32 years – reflecting the global refugee crisis with millions of people fleeing their homes because of war, conflict and persecution – these new Home Office statistics underline why urgent action from government is so important.

“Ministers must set up a dedicated and well-resourced task force to improve the processing of asylum claims, both to reduce the human misery caused by the long delay for a decision but also the spiralling costs of accommodating those on the waiting list, which has reached more than £2bn a year.

“We at the Refugee Council stand ready to work with ministers and others to address this crisis: without further steps to build on those taken so far by the Home Secretary, this issue will continue to seriously harm the asylum system into 2023.”

British support for immigration ‘high as it’s ever been,’ think tank says

11:32 , Thomas Kingsley

Sunder Katwala, director of think tank British Future, said: “Despite these exceptionally high numbers, inflated by new arrivals from Ukraine and Hong Kong, our research finds public support for immigration as high as it's ever been.

“Neither Rishi Sunak nor Keir Starmer plans to make significant cuts to immigration because of the social and economic benefits it brings to Britain.

“So political leaders should now be setting out a vision for how we make this work well for all of us in the UK, focusing on integration, citizenship and training up the UK workforce to fill skills gaps.

“Making vague promises to reduce numbers, without any plan or policy to make it happen, will only damage public trust.”

Large increase in people arriving for ‘humanitarian protection,’ ONS says

11:12 , Thomas Kingsley

Jay Lindop, ONS deputy director of the centre for international migration, said: “A series of world events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together these were unprecedented.

“These include the end of lockdown restrictions in the UK, the first full period following transition from the EU, the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghans and the new visa route for Hong Kong British nationals, which have all contributed to the record levels of long-term immigration we have seen.

“Migration from non-EU countries, specifically students, is driving this rise. With the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, more students arrived in the UK after studying remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, there has also been a large increase in the number of people migrating for a range of other reasons. This includes people arriving for humanitarian protection, such as those coming from Ukraine, as well as for family reasons.

“The many factors independent of each other contributing to migration at this time mean it is too early to say whether this picture will be sustained.”

NEW: Net migration to the UK reaches record high of half a million, ONS estimates show

10:47 , Thomas Kingsley

Net migration to the UK has reached a record high, with an estimated 504,000 more people arriving into the UK than departing in the past year, new ONS estimates show.

It is also the first time since 1991 that more EU nationals have left the UK than arrived. Net migration of EU nationals is minus 51,000 for the year up to June 2022, new estimates show.

Total immigration to the UK is at its highest level since ONS started recording the statistics in 1964 - with 1.1million people arriving in the past year.

Read the full story below from our reporter, Holly Bancroft:

Net migration to the UK reaches record high of half a million, ONS estimates show

10:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Energy consultancy Cornwall Insight said the price cap is likely to remain high from April, at a little over £3,900 for the average household.

It means the government could end up paying around £42 bn over the 18 months it has promised to support households with their energy bills, despite the support becoming less generous from April.

Principal consultant Craig Lowrey said: “This highlights the nature of the wholesale market risk that the government is taking on by deciding to extend the EPG for longer than the March 2023 date announced by the chancellor in October, with the consequence that the full costs may be potentially higher than currently budgeted for.

“Extending the EPG, even at an elevated level, has resulted in the government being exposed to variables and factors over which they crucially have no control. The risk is reduced by changing the level of support but remains acute.

“With Cornwall Insight predicting energy prices will remain above historic levels for many years to come, one thing is clear: more targeted support for the most vulnerable is likely to be needed on an enduring basis if the Government wants to protect consumers while also stabilising its finances.”

B&Q sales boosted by sales of energy efficiency products

10:00 , Thomas Kingsley

B&Q parent firm Kingfisher has revealed that sales of loft insulation materials have more than doubled as customers seeking to improve energy efficiency in their homes helped to boost the retail group.

The company, which also owns Screwfix, recorded higher revenues over the past quarter as the DIY market also benefited from the continued shift towards home working.

Chief executive Thierry Garnier said: “While the market backdrop remains challenging, DIY sales continue to be supported by new industry trends such as more working from home and a clear step-up in customer investment in energy saving and efficiency.”

B&Q reported that sales of loft insulation roll increased by 108 per cent for the three months to 31 October, compared with the same period last year, as customers sought to offset rocketing energy prices.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Government energy saving advice ‘not nannying,’ Gove says

09:40 , Thomas Kingsley

A public information campaign to encourage people to save energy will not be “nannying or patronising”, a senior minister said.

The scheme could show households how to knock up to £420 off their bills, while at the same time delivering potentially huge savings for taxpayers by reducing the cost of the energy price guarantee.

Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove said the government would be pointing people towards “authoritative sources of advice” on managing energy usage.

The Times reported that ministers are preparing a £25 million public information campaign including advice such as switching off radiators in empty rooms and taking showers instead of baths.

Officials have identified eight changes to save up to £420 a year including reducing the flow temperature from boilers, switching electrical devices off rather than leaving them on standby and changing from baths to showers.

Housing secretary in talks with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

09:18 , Thomas Kingsley

Housing secretary Michael Gove said he would be holding talks with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, which owned the flat linked to Awaab Ishak's death.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The chief executive after this tragic case has resigned, I'm going to Rochdale later today in order to talk to them and talk to others about the situation there. But my view at the moment is this organisation does not deserve to get this additional funding.”

Asked if the organisation should still be operating at all, he said: “I'm going to talk to them later today. I've had conversations already with the chair of the organisation and conversations with the outgoing chief executive and I want to see the situation on the ground.

“If the penny has dropped, if the organisation is ready to learn appropriate lessons to improve and there are signs they fully appreciate the need to improve, we will work with them, and indeed with Rochdale council, in order to make improvements.”

Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020 (Family handout/PA)
Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020 (Family handout/PA)

Tens of thousands of homes ‘unsafe,’ Michael Gove says

08:50 , Thomas Kingsley

Housing secretary Michael Gove said “at least” tens of thousands of homes are unsafe.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I fear it's the case that there are tens of thousands of properties that are not in the state that they should be.”

Pressed if tens of thousands was correct, he said: “Yes, at least.

“We know there are a significant number of properties - some of which were built in the 60s and 70s and are in poor conditions, but some of which have been poorly maintained - that simply need to be properly repaired and properly maintained.”

Negotiations ‘key’ to resolve rail strikes, Michael Gove urges

08:35 , Thomas Kingsley

Levelling-Up secretary Michael Gove stressed that negotiations are key to avert strikes after transport secretary Mark Harper said he would not negotiate with the rail union boss.

Mr Gove told TalkTV: “The way to resolve some of these disputes is through talking, through negotiation, through listening.

“And it will be the case the transport secretary, my friend Mark Harper, will be meeting Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT, later today to talk about this.

“I hope the two of them and others can hep set the framework so the people who are actually the key negotiators, the railway bosses, can find a way through with Mr Lynch.”

There must be no ‘whitewash’ in Raab bullying probe, Angela Rayner says

08:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “There must be no hint of a whitewash when it comes to the slew of serious allegations the deputy prime Minister now faces.

“The scope of this investigation must immediately be expanded to enable proactive investigation of Dominic Raab‘s behaviour during his time as a minister, including so-called expressions of concern, informal complaints and the concerning testimony of his own former permanent secretary.

“This Conservative government has a troubling track record of brushing serious misconduct under the carpet. Their refusal to act on findings against Priti Patel previously led their former ethics chief to quit in disgust.

“A temporary stop-gap investigator, appointed in a panic, with an absurdly narrow remit is not a solution to dealing with the flood of allegations of ministerial misconduct now requiring investigation.”

 (EPA/Getty)
(EPA/Getty)

07:52 , Thomas Kingsley

In the latest cost of living news, the price that government will have to pay to support households with their energy bills is set to increase from January as Ofgem increased its energy price cap to 67p per unit for electricity and 17p for gas.

The decision will not impact the amount households pay for their energy because the government has said electricity will cost 34p per unit and gas will be 10.3p until April.

Without the government support the average household would be paying around £4,279 for its energy under the new cap. The support will ensure that average households pay £2,500.

Energy is charged per unit, so those who use more can spend more.

Read the developing story here:

Energy price cap rises to record level hiking government bill for support

ICYMI: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insists he does not back rejoining EU’s single market

07:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has insisted he does not support Britain rejoining the European Union’s single market after facing a backlash from Tory Brexiteers.

He issued a carefully worded denial that he was the source of suggestions that the Government was considering a Swiss-style relationship with the EU.

Conservative Eurosceptics were up in arms after the Sunday Times reported that senior Government figures were working towards regaining access to the single market.

Read the full story here:

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insists he does not back rejoining EU’s single market

Sunak appoints leading KC to investigate bullying claims against Raab

07:10 , Maroosha Muzaffar

A senior lawyer has been appointed by Rishi Sunak to look into complaints of bullying behaviour by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

Commercial and employment law specialist Adam Tolley KC will look into the claims made against Mr Raab after two formal complaints were submitted about his conduct.

Downing Street has indicated Mr Tolley’s remit could extend to other allegations about Mr Raab after a series of claims related to his time as foreign secretary and his first stint in the Ministry of Justice.

Read the full story here:

Sunak appoints leading KC to investigate bullying claims against Raab

Sunak warned Tories face existential threat over housebuilding failures

06:50 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Rishi Sunak was warned by a senior Tory that failing to build new homes is an existential threat for the Conservatives after rebels forced him to delay planning reforms.

Former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke said the party’s vote could collapse if the Government does not help people onto the housing ladder with a building spree.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt acknowledged the difficulties faced by people trying to buy their first home and said planning rules often set “local communities against the national need to build more houses”.

Read the full story here:

Sunak warned Tories face existential threat over housebuilding failures

ICYMI: Minister defends Rishi Sunak’s use of private GP because NHS given ‘a lot of money’

06:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

A cabinet minister has defended Rishi Sunak’s use of a private GP promising “on the day” appointments, insisting he has shown his commitment to the NHS by giving it more cash.

The prime minister is under fire over his registration with a west London clinic charging a reported £250 for a half-hour consultation, with appointments in the evenings and at weekends.

It has been revealed as NHS patients wait ever longer to see a GP – with just 41.5 per cent of appointments in September taking place on the same day, official figures show.

Read the full story by Rob Merrick here:

Minister defends Rishi Sunak’s use of private GP because NHS given ‘a lot of money’

Boris Johnson compares Liz Truss' mini budget to 'badly played piano sketch'

06:10 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Former prime minister Boris Johnson compared Liz Truss’s mini-budget to a badly played piano. In his first comments on the mini-budget, Mr Johnson told CNN: “It’s kind of like when I play the piano. The notes individually sound perfectly OK, but they’re not in the right order, or occurring at the right time.”

Mr Johnson also rejected suggestions he could return as prime minister. He said: “I’ve always said for about 20 years that my chances of becoming PM were about as good as my chances of becoming decapitated by a frisbee, or blinded by a champagne cork or locked in a disused fridge.

“I then did become PM so my chances of becoming PM again I think are those impossibilia cubed or squared.”

Raab reportedly facing fresh bullying complaints from ‘raft’ of civil servants

05:50 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Dominic Raab is facing fresh questions over his conduct as several of his former staff are said to be preparing to file formal bullying complaints against him.

The move is a co-ordinated effort by “a raft of senior civil servants in multiple government departments” to lodge concerns over Mr Raab’s behaviour, including a number of private secretaries, BBC Newsnight reported.

Meanwhile, the programme said it had heard allegations that the Cabinet minister used his personal email account for Government business at two different departments, as recently as last year.

Read the full story by Amy Gibbons here:

Raab reportedly facing fresh bullying complaints from ‘raft’ of civil servants

ICYMI: Surge in private gifts to parties gives ‘super-donors’ growing influence on UK politics, report finds

05:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

A surge in private donations to political parties has put a small number of super-rich individuals in a position to wield “substantial influence” over the UK’s political process, a new report has warned.

Almost half of political donations in the UK – and 60 per cent in the run-up to the 2019 general election – now come from wealthy individuals, compared to around 40 per cent in the early 2000s, found academics from the University of Warwick’s CAGE Research Centre.

Read the full story here:

Surge in private money gives ‘super-donors’ growing political influence, report finds

ICYMI: Former Tory MP Owen Paterson claims ‘unfair’ lobbying investigation breached his human rights

05:10 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Former Conservative MP Owen Paterson has claimed that the lobbying investigation that sparked a government scandal ending with his resignation breached his human rights.

The Brexiteer has lodged a formal complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which formally asked the British government to respond to his allegations on Tuesday.

Mr Paterson has complained to the Strasbourg court that his Article 8 rights under the UK Human Rights Act, relating to respecting his private and family life, had been infringed.

Read the full story here:

Owen Paterson claims ‘unfair’ lobbying investigation breached his human rights

Dominic Raab faces coordinated bullying complaints from a dozen ex-staffers, report says

04:50 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Dominic Raab faces bullying complaints from around one dozen more former staffers, according to reports, as an investigation begins into claims the deputy prime minister left government workers afraid to approach him.

Questions have also been raised over Mr Raab’s alleged use of personal email accounts for government business at two different departments including the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which he currently leads, BBC Newsnight reported.

Rishi Sunak has appointed a leading barrister to investigate two formal complaints made last week about Mr Raab’s conduct while running the MoJ and Foreign Office. Mr Raab denies allegations of bullying and Mr Sunak said he supports his deputy.

Read the full story here:

Raab faces coordinated bullying complaints from a dozen ex-staffers, report says

Jeremy Hunt urges Britons to slash energy use to stop Putin’s ‘blackmail’

04:35 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Britain must cut energy usage by 15 per cent to defeat the Russian president, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The UK Chancellor said: “For most people we need you to play your part in reducing our energy dependency on what Putin chooses to do in Ukraine. And that’s why we’ve got this national ambition to reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent.

Mr Hunt said "in the end everyone is going to have to take responsibility for their energy bills” and consider how to cut their consumption.

He urged that it was important to stop the UK being “blackmailed” by Mr Putin.

04:07 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s UK politics blog for 24 November 2022.