Households struggling to pay their energy bills because of the rising cost of living will not receive more government support before autumn.
Facing the Commons Treasury Committee amid mounting criticism over his Spring Statement, the Chancellor said: “Clearly, it’s very difficult to sit here today and speculate on what happens to energy prices, therefore the biggest impact on living standards in the autumn.
“Let’s wait until we get there and then we can decide on the most appropriate course of action, but I don’t think anyone today knows what that appropriate course of action ought to be.”
Rishi Sunak stressed that there is a great scale of volatility regarding the energy prices and that the government will continue to monitor the situation.
“As we know more, we will be prepared to act if necessary” he said.
Recent research by S&P Global Ratings predicted that power prices would decrease only slightly in 2023.
Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey said the government made “a political choice to plunge 1.3 million people, including half a million children, into absolute poverty”.
Charities had previously warned that an energy crisis could leave 8.5 million UK households unable to heat and power their homes.
Ms Eagle asked the Chancellor about any plan to help those who will be hit harder in this period of energy crisis, giving an example of a single person caring for their parent whose main source of income is their carer’s allowance of £67 a week as they most probably would not be able to afford a huge, quadrupled energy bill in the coming months.
The Chancellor added: “We have announced a £9 billion of support in February to help people with bills, that is worth, about half of the increase in the price cap in April.
“It will disproportionately benefit those on lowest incomes with smaller energy bills.
“What I am trying to balance between is what a responsible amount of borrowing at a time when there’s enormous uncertainty in the outlook and how best to target the support.
“One may say, if they don’t like my choices, they will be happy to borrow a lot more, that’s just not something that I think it’s responsible or sensible. I don’t think it’s the right long-term thing to do for the country.”