Advisers Have Told Liz Truss A Public Info Blitz On Cutting Energy Use Is Needed
The annual household energy cap will hit £3,549 in October (Alamy)
Exclusive: Government officials have advised Liz Truss to launch a communications campaign to inform people about how they can reduce their energy usage as prices spiral and supplies are expected to dwindle in the coming months.
Tackling soaring energy bills and the cost of living crisis is the biggest challenge awaiting Truss, who will be sworn in by the Queen as the new Prime Minister on Tuesday after winning the Conservative leadership contest.
She has vowed to unveil a new package of financial support for housholds in the next week, and is also working on plans to boost domestic supplies of energy.
But with the annual household energy cap due to hit £3,549 next month and continue rising, Truss has been advised by some government officials to launch a communication campaign informing people on how they can reduce their energy usage, PoliticsHome understands.
Downing Street has in recent months insisted that it is not for the government to tell people how much energy they should use, about which they remain steadfast.
"The government's focus is on securing supply, and we do have a robust supply of energy, and equally providing support," a Number 10 spokesperson said on Monday.
That position could evolve with Truss' arrival in Downing Street, however, with the incoming prime minister set to decide whether to green light an information blitz on energy use heading into the winter.
Sources familiar with discussions about a communications campaign believe that if she decides to launch one, she wait until after the Conservative party's annual conference in Birmingham in October.
While currently not policy, some ministers have suggested that the government should advise people on how to scale back their energy usage.
Speaking to LBC last month, education minister Will Quince said that encouraging people to reduce energy usage was "the right thing a responsible government will do".
Asked whether people might be asked to limit their energy usage in the coming months, he said: “My understanding is we don’t foresee challenges of that nature.
“But any ways in which we can encourage individuals, households, and businesses to reduce their energy use while still ensuring that they can run and manage their household I think it is the thing a responsible government will do."
Asked about the proposition during the leadership campaign, Truss's rival Rishi Sunak said people “have to look at all options available” to reduce energy usage.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Kit Malthouse, who has been leading the government's crisis preparation this summer, went further at the weekend, writing in The House that informing the public about reducing their energy usage would be a "critical challenge" in the months ahead.
"In the short term, galvanising Whitehall to embrace a collective 'National Winter Mission' that will get everyone through the next few difficult months, while communicating to the public how we can all help reduce our energy usage and lift the burden on the NHS by getting vaccinated against flu and Covid, will be the critical challenge," he wrote.
Malthouse, who isn't expected to stay in the Cabinet Office when Truss confirms her top team later this week, told PoliticsHome last month that people could limit energy usage by switching off lights, not leaving TVs on standby, and only boiling the water they need when using the kettle.
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