Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Lib Dems urge ‘wartime mentality’ over rising energy costs

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has set out ways the planned price cap increase could be ‘absorbed’ by the UK Government (Jacob King/PA)
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has set out ways the planned price cap increase could be ‘absorbed’ by the UK Government (Jacob King/PA)

The UK Government should treat the cost-of-living crisis with a “wartime mentality” and issue an energy bill “furlough”, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The party’s Scottish leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, made the call on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday.

“Families right across Scotland, and indeed the UK, will be looking towards the coming October with trepidation and fear, because they’re going to see their bills go up again by as much as 70%,” he said.

Mr Cole-Hamilton suggested the Government could assist households with managing costs by cancelling the planned price cap increase.

In doing so, it would “absorb” the cost and “take the hit” by paying the estimated £36 billion cost itself, he said.

Such funding would become available via a “meaningful” windfall tax, additional VAT generated through current inflation levels, and making use of headroom resulting from less borrowing than was previously anticipated, the Edinburgh Western MSP said.

He said this policy would “offset the need” for other measures being offered by the Government, such as the winter fuel allowance and the £400 energy bill discount, but reiterated his party’s calls for the £20 Universal Credit uplift to be reinstated.

The Liberal Democrats would also look for the Warm Home Discount and winter fuel allowance to be doubled, he confirmed.

“This is a multi-faceted approach, but right now we recognise the biggest sort of thing coming over the horizon, causing fear to Scottish families, UK families, is that lift to the price cap.

“We can do something. We can pay for it immediately.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

“These things are linked. We know that energy suppliers have said that one of the reasons that the price cap is going to go up is that, after the economy restarted after the pandemic, massive demands were put on supply of gas and oil and electricity.

“We also know that the war – Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – has seen a massive hike in the global commodity of gas prices.

“All of these things are grouped together, so we should look at this almost like a wartime mentality and say ‘This is an exceptional set of circumstances’.

“If it requires a bit more borrowing, that’s fine, but we actually know we can pay for this with the headroom we’ve got, if we create a meaningful windfall tax on the super-profits, and if we use VAT.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we are providing £37 billion of help for households including the £400 discount on energy bills this winter, and £1,200 of direct support for the most vulnerable households to help with the cost of living.

“While no Government can control global gas prices, over 22 million households are currently protected by the price cap.

“If the cap was not in place, energy companies could charge consumers even higher prices, over and above the costs of purchasing wholesale gas and electricity.”