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Monday, August 21, 2017

The broken Tory promise that could have helped millions

Failure to secure a majority in the House of Commons can often be a valid excuse for not delivering on an election promise, but when there is cross-party support and overwhelming backing for a proposal in the House of Commons, the abandonment of a popular proposal makes no sense whatsoever.

That is certainly the case with Theresa May's manifesto pledge to cap energy prices. No sooner had she stepped back over the threshold of Number 10 Downing Street than the idea had been shelved.

It is not surprising therefore that she is now facing a significant backlash from rebellious Conservative MPs, who are feeling a little miffed that the 17 million British people who stood to benefit from the cap have been abandoned to the oligopolistic power companies.

The Independent says that 53 MPs, including 20 former ministers, have now called on the Prime Minister to fulfil her electoral promise to introduce a cap for all families on a standard variable tariff. The protest, organised by former minister John Penrose, has the backing of 38 Labour and SNP MPs, and includes prominent Conservative figures such as the former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

It is noteworthy of course that weeks after the General Election, British Gas hiked prices by 12.5 per cent for 3.1 million customers, which led to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying they were “concerned” the price rise would hit many people already on poor value tariffs”. It now means that all the “Big Six” energy companies have increased bills for consumers this year:

In their letter, which will be delivered to Downing Street following the parliamentary recess, the MPs demand that Ms May extends Ofgem’s proposals to introduce a price cap on bills for 2.5 million vulnerable consumers to all of the 17m originally promised during the election campaign. 

“While these proposals are a step in the right direction, it is clear we must do more to protect the further 15 million households who continue to be preyed on by the Big Six energy firms,” they add. 

”As you can see from our signatures below, the idea has substantial cross-party support.

“It was promised in the three leading party manifestos and a temporary, relative price cap has support from most of the 'challenger' energy firms - the insurgents who are challenging the dominance of the Big Six incumbents, and providing choice and stronger competition, which benefits consumers."

It is time for Theresa May to keep her promise.
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