By BBC News
News that the energy price cap will rise 80% to £3,549 from October dominates Saturday’s papers.
In an interview the Daily Telegraph, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi says that “we are in a national economic emergency”. He warns that the cost of gas could carry on rising or remain high for up to two years if the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, continues to use energy as a weapon.
Mr Zahawi says he’s drawn up plans for the next prime minister to help not only households, but also small businesses. One idea is to reintroduce Covid-era cuts to VAT and business rates for the hospitality and leisure industries. And, in a break with other cabinet ministers, Mr Zahawi also urges people to cut energy use.
The i reports that if Liz Truss wins the Conservative leadership contest she plans to unveil an aid package for the most vulnerable worth billions of pounds, completing what it calls a U-turn from an earlier pledge that there would be no new “handouts”. The plans include extra winter fuel payments to pensioners and more money for low-income households, the paper says.
The Daily Mirror and the Guardian both use the word “catastrophe” to describe the effects of soaring energy prices. An editorial in the Mirror says it’s no exaggeration to say that pensioners will die of cold, children will go hungry, and businesses will go to the wall. The paper accuses the government of not doing enough to address the crisis and describes the Conservatives as “absent without leave”.
The Guardian highlights warnings from charities that single parents will be spending almost two thirds of their income after housing costs on energy, while the poorest single adults will see their finances “wiped out”. The paper says that a lack of action by ministers shows there is “a power vacuum at the heart of government”.
On its front page, the Times predicts the worst is yet to come, with forecasts suggesting the average annual bills for gas and electricity could reach £7,000 next April. The paper says the rising cost of energy would keep inflation above 10%, putting pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates.
Away from the energy crisis, the Telegraph reports that the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is set to be the most high profile casualty in a cull of “Tory big beasts” from the Cabinet if Liz Truss becomes prime minister. According to the article, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Health Secretary Stephen Barclay, and Environment Secretary George Eustice, will each also be among those sent to the back benches.
And the Sun says Prince Charles has been making regular morning visits to the Queen at Balmoral as she continues to struggle with mobility problems. The paper says it’s a sign of his concern for his mother, because unplanned visits between households on the estate are highly unusual.