LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the two candidates vying to replace him are under increasing pressure to set out further support for households facing a surge in energy bills to unprecedented levels.
The Conservative Party leadership contest between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak runs until Sept. 5. But, with analysts forecasting domestic energy prices hitting more than 4,200 pounds a year in January, campaigners have called for a plan to be drawn up now for the difficult winter ahead.
WHAT THE CANDIDATES HAVE SAID THEY WILL DO
Sunak has said he is in no doubt more support will be needed to help households through the winter, and he would act as soon as it is confirmed how much bills would be increasing by.
The cap from October will be announced on Aug. 26.
Leadership frontrunner Truss has said she does not believe handouts are the best way to help households through the cost-of-living squeeze, and she prefers to focus on tax cuts.
Truss has said she would apply a temporary moratorium on environmental and social levies added to consumers' electricity bills.
PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED SUPPORT
In May, when Sunak was finance minister, the government set out a 15-billion-pound ($18.17 billion) support package to help households struggling with the rocketing cost of living, funded in part by a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
- Energy bills discount
Every household will receive a 400-pound-credit to their energy bills from October. This replaced a previously planned 200-pound rebate on energy bills which had to be repaid over the next five years. The new rebate will not need to be repaid.
- Low income households
More than 8 million low-income households in receipt of state benefits are also being given a further one-off payment of 650 pounds, paid straight into their bank account in two instalments. The first payment, of 326 pounds, was made in July and the second will follow in the autumn.
More than 8 million pensioner households, who already receive a winter fuel payment, will also receive an extra one-off payment of 300 pounds.
- Disabled people
Some 6 million people who receive disability benefits will receive an extra one-off payment from September of 150 pounds, to help with rising costs of things such as energy-intensive medical equipment.
- Household support fund
This fund, which provides money for local authorities to distribute to support vulnerable households, will be increased by 500 million pounds to extend it to March 2023 from October.
($1 = 0.8255 pounds)
(Compiled by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)