Laura Trott – 2022 Speech on Energy Price Capping

The speech made by Laura Trott, the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, in the House of Commons on 8 September 2022.

My thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers of everyone in Sevenoaks and Swanley, are with Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family at this time.

I warmly welcome today’s announcement. It will relieve a huge amount of anxiety for my constituents, for businesses such as Donnington Manor that are worried about being crippled by prices, and for schools such as Dunton Green Primary School whose energy bills are going up by 500%.

I am glad that heating oil and heat networks are included in the announcement, although I question whether those prices will be frozen. The prices have gone up extensively this year and have tripled in some cases, such as for the Bourchier Court heat network, so it would be helpful to have clarification on whether that price will be frozen or whether it will be allowed to go up, with compensation provided later.

I have previously spoken in this House about how it is illegal to cut off a household’s water supply. A water company can recoup its costs through the courts, but it cannot cut off a household’s water supply for reasons of non-payment. We should consider extending that to energy supply. There are some protections in place, and energy companies are not allowed to cut off a customer’s supply during the winter months if they live on their own, if they are of state pension age or if there is a child in the house.

However, there is not enough protection. Ofgem has shown that one in seven households on a prepayment meter disconnected in 2019, so we should look at this seriously. We cannot have that number of disconnections, and the number is likely only to go up, when there is something we can do to send a very clear message that energy consumers will be safe this winter, so they do not need to worry, if it really comes to it, that their energy supply will be cut off. There would still be the mechanism by which costs can be recouped, but there would be a safety net for everybody. I think that would go a huge way towards reassuring people.

I welcome today’s announcement, as it will really help my constituents. I hope to see further effort and work on ensuring the energy supply to households.