Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that energy firms unable to offer lower bills should be temporarily brought into public ownership, in a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis.
In a new article for The Guardian, the former Labour PM said governments should negotiate lower prices with companies, comparing the situation to the banking crisis in 2009 when some banks faced temporary nationalisation in a bid to aid consumers.
Calling for immediate action, he said: “Time and tide wait for no one. Neither do crises. They don’t take holidays, and don’t politely hang fire – certainly not to suit the convenience of a departing PM and the whims of two potential successors.”
He added: “And if the companies cannot meet these new requirements, we should consider all the options we used with the banks in 2009: guaranteed loans, equity financing and, if this fails, as a last resort, operate their essential services from the public sector until the crisis is over.”
His bold vision came just hours after Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss was forced into a humiliating U-turn, claiming she had never ruled out the possibility of providing direct help with energy bills.
Almost 50,000 people have also signed a petition backing Mr Brown‘s call for an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis.
His comments come days after Martin Lewis described soaring energy bills as a “national crisis” on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you know there’s a crisis of magnificent proportions coming, you start dealing with it now,” he said. “What we are facing right now is a financial emergency that risks lives.”
esterday, it was revealed that annual energy bills are expected to reach £4,200 from January.
“If we had a volcano that was exploding in the UK right now, I would be very surprised if the Government said it can’t call a Cobra meeting and can’t get something done on the back of it because we haven’t got working government,” Lewis continued, referring to Boris Johnson’s rejection of former PM Gordon Brown’s calls for an emergency meeting.
“What we’re facing here is a financial emergency that risks lives,” Lewis added, emphasising that Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak need to do something soon.
In May the government announced some financial support with the soaring cost of living, including a £400 discount on energy bills for all UK households, and an additional £650 for more than eight million lower-income households.